Wednesday, April 28, 2010

WHITE HOUSE INITIATIVE LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN TO INCREASE ASIAN AMERICAN AND PACIFIC ISLANDER ACCESS AND PARTICIPATION IN FEDERAL PROGRAMS

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
TUESDAY, APRIL 27, 2010
CONTACT: Jim Bradshaw
(202) 401-1576
press@ed.gov

WHITE HOUSE INITIATIVE LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN TO INCREASE ASIAN AMERICAN AND PACIFIC ISLANDER ACCESS AND PARTICIPATION IN FEDERAL PROGRAMS



Community leaders to advise federal agencies on needed services for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and to provide recommendations on innovative local programs.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In advance of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May, today, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders announced the Obama Administration’s efforts to improve the lives of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities underserved by federal resources. The Initiative will collaborate with top agency officials and community leaders in roundtable discussions on education opportunities, housing, jobs, employment issues and health disparities. Experts with hands-on community experience will advise federal agencies on critical issues and share innovative models of proven success.

“We want all Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to know what resources the Obama Administration has available to help improve their lives,” Executive Director Kiran Ahuja said. “By building strong collaboration between federal agency officials and community leaders, we’re taking the first step towards investing in a mutually beneficial partnership to create easier access to educational opportunities and program services.”

“The President is committed to maximizing the government’s ability to address the needs of the AAPI communities through this initiative,” Chris Lu, assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary, said. “President Obama and his Administration are doing everything we can to support the efforts to increase AAPI access and participation in federal programs, especially during these tough economic times.”

Like all Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are suffering severe challenges in the current economic crises. AAPIs have experienced the largest decline in homeownership of any racial group over the last year. Poverty rates, work-related injuries and job losses also have increased.

Working with Initiative co-chairs U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Ahuja has already built a strong team at the Initiative. She has enlisted many Administration officials to hold dozens of events during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis will discuss employment and labor issues with community leaders. Secretary Locke will hold a webchat to discuss the Initiative’s work, and Secretary Duncan will visit a public school with a high percentage of Asian American students and a strong bilingual education program.



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NOTE: For more information about the Initiative, please visit http://aapi.gov .

For a bio and photo of Kiran Ahuja, executive director, please visit http://www2.ed.gov/news/staff/bios/ahuja.html . To get more involved, please e-mail WhiteHouseAAPI@ed.gov .


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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

VVA Radio Message April 25 : CENSUS 2010 UPDATES - INTERVIEW DR. QUAN DINH - MR. ANH DO - MS. THU TRANG ABOUT APRIL 30TH 75 REMEMBRANCE AND ACTION

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VVA RADIO MESSAGE
RADIO VIỆT NAM HẢI NGOẠI APRIL 26, 2010
LẬP PHÁP – CỘNG ĐỒNG
Do Voice of Vietnamese Americans phụ trách

MP3 - Xin bấm vào để nghe. Audio file chỉ có hiệu lực trong 1 tuần - xin download nếu muốn giừ làm tài liệu.


Kính chào chị Thục Đoan và quý thính giả đài phát thanh Việt Nam Hải Ngoại cùng quý đồng hương khắp nơi. Tiếng Nói Người Mỹ Gốc Việt hân hạnh đến với đồng bào qua chương trình Lập Pháp và Cộng Đồng phát thanh hàng tuần vào mỗi chiều thứ hai, lúc 4 giờ chiều giờ Hoa Thịnh Đốn. Hôm nay, Ngọc Giao xin mời quý vị cùng theo dõi chương trình với các tiết mục sau đây:

1/ Sơ lược tin tức và theo dõi kết quả của việc Thống Kê Dân Số.

2/ Nói chuyện với TS Đinh Xuân Quân, một cựu tù cải tạo dưới chế độ CS sau 1975, thuyền nhân, và đầu thập niên 1990 TS Đinh Xuân Quân trở thành Cố Vấn cho Thủ Tướng Phạm Văn Khải của nước XHCN VN qua vai trò chuyên gia phát triển trong chương trình UNDP do Liên Hiệp Quốc bảo trợ. TS Kinh Tế Đinh Xuân Quân là một chuyên gia phát triển quốc gia về hành chánh, tài chánh, kinh tế, và đặc biệt giúp giải quyết các mâu thuẫn sâu sắc trong guồng máy chính quyền tại các nước hậu chiến, nhằm đặt nền tảng cho một nền dân chủ đích thực và lâu bền, đưa đến phúc lợi cho mọi người dân.

3/ CTCD VN vùng HTD, MD, VA Đỗ Hồng Anh trình bày về chương trình 30 tháng 4 tại Hoa Thịnh Đốn, Maryland, Virginia.

4/ Cô Thu Trang, một nguời trẻ tại vùng DC đang tham gia vào chiến dịch đòi "Tự Do cho Thủy Nhân Nghiên", nói về các sinh hoạt điển hình mà người trẻ có thể tích cực tham gia để thúc đẩy tiến trình tự do dân chủ cho Việt Nam.

Thưa quý thính giả tại Hoa Kỳ, cuộc thống kê dân số 2010 tại Hoa Kỳ đã bước sang tuần thứ 3 của tháng 4. Cho đến nay, có đến 72% dân số toàn quốc đã gửi trả bản câu hỏi thống kê dân số. Đây là điều rất đáng khích lệ. Các tài liệu nghiên cứu cho thấy sự tham gia của dân Mỹ gốc Á Châu năm nay tích cực hơn 10 năm trước.



Các tiểu bang có đông người Việt như California, tỷ số là 70%, Florida 71%, Washington State lên tới 73%, Virginia lên đến 75%, Pensylvania 76% . Texas thấp hơn, chỉ có 68%, Louisiana rất thấp, chỉ có 63%. Người Việt chúng ta tại Louisiana và Texas rất đông, xin hãy cố gắng tham gia việc trả lời các câu hỏi thống kê dân số, để cộng đồng nhận được phúc lợi công cộng, nhất là trong hoàn cảnh khó khăn về tài chánh hiện nay.

Voice of Vietnamese Americans chân thành cảm ơn các tình nguyện viên đã hết sức làm việc trong thời gian qua để khuyến khích đồng bào tham gia trả lời và gửi lại bản câu hỏi thống kê dân số. Virginia và Hoa Thịnh Đốn đã có sự tham gia cao hơn kỳ thống kê năm 2000. Xin được cảm ơn Vel, Vân Anh, Thiền, Yến Nhi, và nhiều bạn khác tại Virginia, Cindy và các bạn tại Texas, TS Đinh Xuân Quân và Cô Kim Hà cùng các tình nguyện viên tại California đã tích cực tiếp tay trong nỗ lực này.





Tường trình và hình ảnh của các thành viên và tình nguyện viên Voice of Vietnamese Americans nỗ lực khuyến khích đồng bào tham gia Census 2010

Con số thống kê sẽ được chính thức tổng kết tạm và loan báo vào ngày thứ tư 28 tháng 4 tới đây, và sau đó, các nhân viên của sở thống kê dân số sẽ đến thăm các địa chỉ chưa gửi lại bản trả lời bắt đầu vào tuần tới, đầu tháng năm.

Chính phủ Liên Bang đã chi 300 triệu cho việc vận động và thuê nhân viên cho việc kiểm kê dân số năm 2010. Điều này giúp chúng ta vượt qua nhiều trở ngại như việc rất nhiều gia đình có nhà bị foreclosed, và với con số thất nghiệp khổng lồ trong lịch sử, nhiều người đã phải bỏ nhà đi ở chỗ bất định. Ngoài ra, sở thống kê cũng phải đối đầu với việc nhiều người Châu Mỹ gốc La Tinh vì sợ bị Sở Di Trú theo dõi, đã không dám khai vào bản thống kê. Con số này phản ánh trên các tiểu bang nhiều người Mỹ gốc Hispanic như Texas, California, Louisiana.

Thành quả cuối cùng sẽ hoàn toàn dựa vào 630 ngàn nhân viên kiểm kê dân số được thuê để làm việc ngắn hạn từ ngày 1 tháng 5 đến tháng 7, trong việc đi đến từng địa chỉ chưa gửi trả mẫu thống kê để trực tiếp tìm hiểu.

Nha Thống Kê Dân Số Toàn Quốc phải nộp con số tổng kết lên Tổng Thống vào cuối năm 2010. Dựa vào con số này, Tổng Thống sẽ quyết định số dân biểu đại diện mỗi tiểu bang tại Hạ Viện. Sang đầu năm 2011, mỗi tiểu bang sẽ xúc tiến việc quyết định địa hạt bầu cử của mình, để mọi người dân đều có tiếng nói đại diện trong chính quyền các cấp, từ địa phương đến trung ương, tiểu bang đến liên bang. Đây là giai đoạn rất quan trọng, ảnh hưởng trực tiếp đến tất cả mọi người. Xin quý đồng hương nhớ để ý theo dõi và tham gia nếu có thể được. Voice of Vietnamese Americans sẽ tiếp tục làm việc để đem các tin tức mới nhất đến với quý vị.

Sau kỳ Hội Nghị Thượng Đỉnh về vũ khí hạt nhân ngày 12 tháng 4 vừa qua, Hoa Kỳ đã ngày càng chứng tỏ vai trò lãnh đạo của mình với thế giới. Trong bối cảnh ấy, người Mỹ gốc Việt của chúng ta càng phải cố gắng hơn gấp bội để có thể xứng đáng với trách nhiệm của mình trong hoàn cảnh thuận lợi này.

Thưa quý đồng hương, ngày 22 tháng 4 vừa qua là ngày vinh danh trái đất, hay “Earth Day”, được toàn thế giới cùng chia sẻ. Trong dịp này, ngày 23 tháng 4, khối ASEAN + 3 đã có buổi họp của giới trẻ Đông Nam Á cùng Tàu, Nhật, Đại Hàn để bàn về các vấn đề chung của chúng ta.



Regional Youth Environment Forum Launched in Conjunction with Earth Day 2010

Ngọc Giao đề nghị người Mỹ gốc Việt cũng nên chú tâm đến các vấn đề trực tiếp ảnh hưởng đến môi sinh của đồng bào, như vấn nạn Bauxite, sông Mekong, an sinh vùng biển Đông Nam Á Châu. Xin quý vị hãy cố gắng theo dõi cùng tham gia các thảo luận này để chúng ta có tiếng nói trên bình diện an sinh thế giới. Chúng ta sẽ đào sâu về đề tài này trong kỳ tới.

Ngày 24 tháng 4, Quỹ Tiền Tệ Quốc Tế hay IMF cũng có buổi họp quan trọng tại Hoa Thịnh Đốn.










Lập Pháp

Trong tuần qua, ngày 22 tháng 4, Tổng Thống Obama đã chuyển trọng tâm sang Cải Tổ Tài Chánh, bắt đầu bằng cuộc nói chuyện ngày 22 tháng 4 tại Cooper Union, New York.


TT Obama nói khủng hoảng kinh tế năm 2008 là hậu quả của việc Wall Street chính quyền tại Hoa Thịnh Đốn thiếu tinh thần trách nhiệm, tạo hậu quả là hàng triệu người mất việc, mất nhà, sinh viên ra trường không việc làm, toàn quốc lâm vào cảnh kinh tế suy thoái, đưa đến việc chính phủ buộc lòng phải dùng ngân quỹ quốc gia để nâng đỡ và giúp mang đất nước ra khỏi vực thẳm. Điều này khiến ông đi đến cam kết sẽ cố gắng cải tổ tài chính để bảo đảm nền kinh tế thị trường của Hoa Kỳ không bị lạm dụng, đưa đến một suy thoái khác. TT Obama nói Cải Tổ Tài Chánh là điều tối cần thiết để xây dựng căn bản phát triển lâu dài cho Hoa Kỳ

http://voiceofvietnameseamericans.blogspot.com/2010/04/fiscal-policy-pres-obama-we-have.html

Trong bài nói chuyện với quốc dân ngày 23 tháng 4, TT Obama nói đến việc công ty GMC đã thành công trong việc cải tổ nhờ sự giúp đỡ của chính quyền, và đang trên đà tái phát triển, đã trả gần hết nợ từ tiền mượn của ngân quỹ quốc gia.

Phe Cộng Hòa đáp trả bằng bài nói chuyện của TNS Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R – Texas, thuộc Ủy Ban Thương Mại tại Hạ Viện, phản đối quyết định dùng ngân quỹ quốc gia để tài trợ các công ty và nói cương quyết sẽ phản đối việc bail out trong tương lai.

Tại Thượng Viện, TNS Harry Reid, Chủ Tịch khối đa số, đã đưa đề nghị biểu quyết dự luật Cải Tổ Tài Chánh vào trưa hôm nay, Thứ Hai 25 tháng 4.

• Xin quý vị gọi số 1. 866. 544. 7573 vào văn phòng TNS đại diện tiểu bang mình ở và cho biết ý kiến của chúng ta về vấn đề này.

Thưa quý đồng hương, tháng 4 năm 1975 đánh dấu một bước ngoặt lớn trong lịch sử Việt. Tính đến nay, đã là 35 năm.

Năm 2009, Voice of Vietnamese Americans đã cùng trên 30 Hội Đoàn và cá nhân Việt Nam tại Hoa Kỳ và thế giới cùng bắt đầu ghi lại cuộc “Hành Trình Tìm Tự Do của Người Việt” vào Thư Viện Quốc Hội Hoa Kỳ, vào ngày 2 tháng 5, năm 2009.

Bắt đầu từ ngày này, chúng ta có 3 Đạo Luật ghi lại lịch sử sự hiện diện của người Mỹ gốc Việt:

TNS Jim Webb đưa ra Senate Resolution: S R 123 "May 2nd, Vietnamese Refugees Day" vào ngày 30 tháng 4 năm 2009. Đạo luật này được Thượng Viện Hoa Kỳ ủng hộ với đa số phiếu tuyệt đối.

Dân Biểu Cao Quang Ánh đưa ra House Resolution 342 - May 2: Vietnamese Refugees Day

Tại Quốc Hội Tiểu Bang Virginia, Dân Biểu Robert Hull đưa ra Resolution 69: "May 2nd, Vietnamese Boat People Day"

Trong nhừng ngày cuối tháng tư, chúng ta xin được vinh danh người tỵ nạn và thuyền nhân Việt Nam. Ngày 2 tháng 5 năm 2009, một thuyền nhân rất đặc biệt đã đại diện chúng ta trong buổi nói chuyện tại Thư Viện Quốc Hội: TS Đinh Xuân Quân.

Dr. Quân Xuân Đinh - A RETURN TO VIETNAM - Remarks at the "Journey to Freedom: A Boat People Retrospective Symposium on May 2nd 2009 at the Library of Congress, Washington DC, USA


Hôm nay, chúng ta hân hạnh mời được TS Đinh Xuân Quân đến nói chuyện với quý đồng hượng.

TS Đinh Xuân Quân tốt nghiệp Tiến Sĩ Kinh Tế hạng Ưu tại Đại Học Sorbonne, Pháp, năm 1974. Trước đó, năm 1972, ông đã lấy MBA tại Hoa Kỳ, đại học Temple, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ông cũng có bằng đặc biệt về International Banking tại Đức (1974), Industrial and Commercial Credit, từ Banque Francaise pour le Commerce Exterieur, Paris, France, 1974.

Trước 1975, ông về Việt Nam phục vụ tại Quỹ Phát Triển. Sau 1975, ông bị bắt đi tù cải tạo. Ông đã cố gắng vượt biên 9 lần. Đến năm 1978 thì ông thành công khi vượt biên lần thứ 9. Ông vượt biên bằng thuyền, đem theo Mẹ và cháu gái, đến Thái Lan, và sang Hoa Kỳ. Ngay khi đến Hoa Kỳ, ông đã bắt đầu đi làm 3 việc để xây dựng lại đời sống trong lúc đóng góp lại cho xã hội. Ông viết nhiều báo và tiếp tay với nhiều hội đoàn Việt để mong hỗ trợ tiếng nói của người Việt tỵ nạn. Năm 1980 - 1981, ông bắt đầu làm việc với USAID trong vai trò Trưởng các dự án phát triển nông nghiệp. Từ 1982 đến 1990, ông làm cho Ngân Hàng Thế Giới trong nhiều chương trình phát triển các nước thứ ba tại Guinea, Tây Phi, Trung Phi (CAR), Kenya, Madagascar, Zaire. Năm 1992, 1994-1997 qua chương trình của UNDP, ông làm cố vấn cho chính quyền Việt Nam để giúp hướng dẫn một số cải tổ về hành chánh, nhân sự, và đầu tư. Từ 2000 đến nay, ông giúp cố vấn cho nhiều chính quyền các nước hậu chiến, đang gặp nhiều khó khăn về kinh tế và hành chánh, để giúp ổn định tình hình và phát triển khả năng tài chính của các quốc gia này. Ông đã cố vấn cho chính phủ các nước như Iraq, Liberia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Kosovo, Indonesia...

Ngày 2 tháng 5, 2009, Ông tham dự buổi Hội Luận "Hành Trình Tìm Tự Do của người Việt: Nhìn lại câu chuyện Thuyền Nhân" tại Thư Viện Quốc Hội Hoa Kỳ, với bài tham luận nói lên câu chuyện hy hữu của đời ông, "Từ Tù Cải Tạo đến Cố Vấn Chính Phủ" [From Prisoner to Advisor] như một tấm gương không ngừng đóng góp cho sự cải tiến đất nước đến mức tốt đẹp hơn.

Tiến Sĩ Đinh Xuân Quân là cố vấn cho Voice of Vietnamese Americans.

Ngọc Giao cũng xin mời Chủ Tịch Cộng Đồng HTD, MD, VA, Ông Đỗ Hồng Anh nói về các sinh hoạt cộng đồng tại Hoa Thịnh Đốn trong dịp 30 tháng 4.

THÔNG CÁO
V/v: Quốc Hận 30 tháng tư

Để tưởng niệm 35 năm Quốc Hận, Cộng Đồng Việt Nam Vùng Washington DC, MD & VA sẽ phối hợp cùng Liên Hội Cựu chiến Sĩ VNCH Vùng HTĐ và Phụ Cận tổ chức các sinh hoạt 30 tháng tư theo lịch trình sau đây:
1. LỄ TRUY ĐIỆU: do Liên Hội Cựu Chiến Sĩ VNCH đảm trách vào lúc 7 giờ tối thứ sáu 30 tháng tư năm 2010 tại kỳ đài Trung Tâm Thương Mại Eden.
2. CHƯƠNG TRÌNH THẮP NẾN VÀ CA NHẠC ĐẤU TRANH: Ngay sau lễ truy điệu.
3. LỄ CHÀO CỜ: vào lúc 12 giờ trưa ngày thứ bảy 1 tháng 5 năm 2010 tại kỳ đài Trung Tâm Thương Mại Eden với toán rước Quốc Kỳ của Liên Hội CCS-VNCH (cờ được treo rũ từ một tuần trước).
4. BIỂU TÌNH: Ngay sau lễ chào cờ, sẽ có xe buýt đưa đồng hương đi biểu tình tại:
Các cuộc biểu tình sẽ qui tụ nhiều phái đoàn người Việt của vùng Đông Bắc Hoa Kỳ để cực lực lên án bè lũ Việt Cộng ươn hèn phản bội Tổ Quốc và mạnh mẽ lên tiếng phản đối bọn bá quyền bành trướng Bắc Kinh.

5. LỄ ĐẶT VÒNG HOA TẠI VIETNAM MEMORIAL: lúc 4 giờ chiều 1/5/2010.

Trân trọng kính mời quý đồng hương, quý hội đoàn, quý cộng đồng các tiểu bang lân cận, và quý cơ quan truyền thông vui lòng sắp xếp thì giờ đến tham dự đông đảo tất cả các sinh hoạt trên để tuởng nhớ đến ngày tang thương của đất nước và để bày tỏ quyết tâm đấu tranh cho một nước VN tự do dân chủ và toàn vẹn lãnh thổ.

Mọi chi tiết, xin liên lạc: Ô. Lý Văn Phước 301-515-7327 - Ô. Nguyễn Văn Đặng 571-236-1908 – Ô. Lý Hiền Tài 410-917-1587 – Ô. Đỗ Hồng Anh 703-373-9333.

Hôm nay, chúng ta cũng rất hân hạnh mời được một người trẻ, cô Thu Trang, nói về chiến dịch "Tự Do cho Thủy, Nhân, Nghiên", ba vị anh thư đang tranh đấu cho tự do dân chủ tại Việt Nam. Xin mời Thu Trang.

Chiến dịch đòi tự do cho Thủy Nhân Nghiên đuợc khởi xuớng vào ngày 8 tháng 3, nhân dịp ngày quốc tế phụ nữ.Mục tiêu là vận động đồng bào trong và ngoài nuớc hỗ trợ cho 3 nhà dân chủ nữ này cũng như vận động quốc tế lên tiếng đòi tự do cho họ. 3 nữ nhà dânc hủ nữ này là những nhân vật tiêu biểu cho sự đóng góp dũng cảm của giới nữ cho phong trào đấu tranh. Họ là những khuôn mặt đuợc thế giới biết đến và nguỡng mộ. Cả 3 nguời đều đã đuợc giải Hellmann/Hammet của Human Rights Watch.



Chiến dịch này được quảng bá rộng rãi qua internet, đặc biệt qua nhóm Friends of VIet Tan trên Facebook, kêu gọi các bạn trẻ tham gia bằng cách viết thư và vận động dânbiểu của họ hỗ trợ những tù nhân luơng tâm này - adopt a voice of conscience. Em tham gia chiến dịch cũng qua ngả này.

Cảm ơn Thu Trang, Anh Đỗ Hồng Anh, và TS Đinh Xuân Quân. Vì thời giờ có hạn, xin được hẹn tất cả quý vị vào thứ hai tuần tới, cũng vào lúc 4 giờ chiều, giờ Hoa Thịnh Đốn. Chúc quý đồng hương một buổi tối an lành và xin kính chào tạm biệt.


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Saturday, April 24, 2010

IMF 2010 Spring Meeting Underway in Washington -

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Sources: CSPAN and IMF website
http://www.imf.org/external/index.htm

Saturday 04/24/2010

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank are holding their spring meetings this weekend here in Washington. I-M-F officials held a briefing to discuss the global economic outlook. Speakers included the group’s managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Washington, DC : 35 min.

watch Press Briefing: IMFC Chair (4/25)
watch Treas.Sec. Geithner Press Conf. (4/24)

IMFC Urges Consistent Approach to Financial Sector Reform


Transcript of a Press Conference on the International Monetary and Financial Committee’s 2010 Spring Meeting with Youssef Boutros-Ghali, Chairman of the IMFC and Minister of Finance of Egypt, and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn


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Thursday, April 22, 2010

CSPAN: Senate Budget Clears FY2011 spending bill

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The Senate Budget Cmte. debated and voted on amendments to the FY2011 spending bill. One of the amendments voted on and passed eliminated $44 billion in unobligated Troubled Asset Relief Program funds. The plan includes deficit reduction and continued the middle-class tax breaks that are set to expire at the end of the year.





watch Cmte. Markup: AM Session
watch Cmte. Markup: PM Session

FY 2011 Senate Budget Resolution

AP: Senate panel adopts Democratic plan

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Fiscal Policy: Pres. Obama: we have a “failure of responsibility”

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CSPAN Video: Pres. Obama: We have a failure of responsibility

AP: Obama Slams Wall Street Ways


Pres. Obama described Wall Street and Washington's role in the 2008 financial downturn as a "failure of responsibility." He spoke near Wall Street's financial district to argue for reform in the financial industry.

Sen. Maj. Ldr. Harry Reid (D-NV) has filed a cloture motion on the financial reform bill and a vote will take place Monday afternoon to proceed to the legislation.


President's NYC Speech

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
_
For Immediate Release
April 22, 2010

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON WALL STREET REFORM

Cooper Union

New York, New York
11:50 A.M. EDT



THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Everybody, please have a seat. Thank you very much. Well, thank you. It is good to be back. (Applause.) It is good to be back in New York, it is good to be back in the Great Hall at Cooper Union. (Applause.)

We‟ve got some special guests here that I want to acknowledge. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is here in the house. (Applause.) Governor David Paterson is here.

(Applause.) Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. (Applause.) State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is here. (Applause.) The Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg. (Applause.) Dr. George Campbell, Jr., president of Cooper Union. (Applause.)

And all the citywide elected officials who are here. Thank you very much for your attendance.

It is wonderful to be back in Cooper Union, where generations of leaders and citizens have come to defend their ideas and contest their differences. It‟s also good to be back in Lower Manhattan, a few blocks from Wall Street. (Laughter.) It really is good to be back, because Wall Street is the heart of our nation‟s financial sector.

Now, since I last spoke here two years ago, our country has been through a terrible trial. More than 8 million people have lost their jobs. Countless small businesses have had to shut their doors. Trillions of dollars in savings have been lost -- forcing seniors to put off retirement, young people to postpone college, entrepreneurs to give up on the dream of starting a company. And as a nation we were forced to take unprecedented steps to rescue the financial system and the broader economy.

And as a result of the decisions we made -- some of which, let‟s face it, were very unpopular -- we are seeing hopeful signs. A little more than one year ago we were losing an average of 750,000 jobs each month. Today, America is adding jobs again. One year ago the economy was shrinking rapidly. Today the economy is growing. In fact, we‟ve seen the fastest turnaround in growth in nearly three decades.

But you‟re here and I‟m here because we‟ve got more work to do. Until this progress is felt not just on Wall Street but on Main Street we cannot be satisfied. Until the millions of our neighbors who are looking for work can find a job, and wages are growing at a meaningful pace, we may be able to claim a technical recovery -- but we will not have truly recovered. And even as we seek to revive this economy, it‟s also incumbent on us to rebuild it stronger than before. We don‟t want an economy that has the same weaknesses that led to this crisis. And that means addressing some of the underlying problems that led to this turmoil and devastation in the first place.
Now, one of the most significant contributors to this recession was a financial crisis as dire as any we‟ve known in generations -- at least since the ‟30s. And that crisis was born of a failure of responsibility -- from Wall Street all the way to Washington -- that brought down many of the world‟s largest financial firms and nearly dragged our economy into a second Great Depression.

It was that failure of responsibility that I spoke about when I came to New York more than two years ago -- before the worst of the crisis had unfolded. It was back in 2007. And I take no satisfaction in noting that my comments then have largely been borne out by the events that followed. But I repeat what I said then because it is essential that we learn the lessons from this crisis so we don‟t doom ourselves to repeat it. And make no mistake, that is exactly what will happen if we allow this moment to pass -- and that‟s an outcome that is unacceptable to me and it‟s unacceptable to you, the American people. (Applause.)

As I said on this stage two years ago, I believe in the power of the free market. I believe in a strong financial sector that helps people to raise capital and get loans and invest their savings. That‟s part of what has made America what it is. But a free market was never meant to be a free license to take whatever you can get, however you can get it. That‟s what happened too often in the years leading up to this crisis. Some -- and let me be clear, not all -- but some on Wall Street forgot that behind every dollar traded or leveraged there‟s family looking to buy a house, or pay for an education, open a business, save for retirement. What happens on Wall Street has real consequences across the country, across our economy.

I‟ve spoken before about the need to build a new foundation for economic growth in the 21st century. And given the importance of the financial sector, Wall Street reform is an absolutely essential part of that foundation. Without it, our house will continue to sit on shifting sands, and our families, businesses, and the global economy will be vulnerable to future crises. That‟s why I feel so strongly that we need to enact a set of updated, commonsense rules to ensure accountability on Wall Street and to protect consumers in our financial system. (Applause.)

Now, here‟s the good news: A comprehensive plan to achieve these reforms has already passed the House of Representatives. (Applause.) A Senate version is currently being debated, drawing on ideas from Democrats and Republicans. Both bills represent significant improvement on the flawed rules that we have in place today, despite the furious effort of industry lobbyists to shape this legislation to their special interests.

And for those of you in the financial sector I'm sure that some of these lobbyists work for you and they‟re doing what they are being paid to do. But I‟m here today specifically -- when I speak to the titans of industry here -- because I want to urge you to join us, instead of fighting us in this effort. (Applause.) I‟m here because I believe that these reforms are, in the end, not only in the best interest of our country, but in the best interest of the financial sector. And I‟m here to explain what reform will look like, and why it matters.

Now, first, the bill being considered in the Senate would create what we did not have before, and that is a way to protect the financial system and the broader economy and American taxpayers in the event that a large financial firm begins to fail. If there‟s a Lehmans or an AIG, how can we respond in a way that doesn‟t force taxpayers to pick up the tab or, alternatively, could bring down the whole system.
In an ordinary local bank when it approaches insolvency, we‟ve got a process, an orderly process through the FDIC, that ensures that depositors are protected, maintains confidence in the banking system, and it works. Customers and taxpayers are protected and owners and management lose their equity. But we don‟t have that kind of process designed to contain the failure of a Lehman Brothers or any of the largest and most interconnected financial firms in our country.

That‟s why, when this crisis began, crucial decisions about what would happen to some of the world‟s biggest companies -- companies employing tens of thousands of people and holding hundreds of billions of dollars in assets -- had to take place in hurried discussions in the middle of the night. And that‟s why, to save the entire economy from an even worse catastrophe, we had to deploy taxpayer dollars. Now, much of that money has now been paid back and my administration has proposed a fee to be paid by large financial firms to recover all the money, every dime, because the American people should never have been put in that position in the first place. (Applause.)

But this is why we need a system to shut these firms down with the least amount of collateral damage to innocent people and innocent businesses. And from the start, I‟ve insisted that the financial industry, not taxpayers, shoulder the costs in the event that a large financial company should falter. The goal is to make certain that taxpayers are never again on the hook because a firm is deemed “too big to fail.”
Now, there‟s a legitimate debate taking place about how best to ensure taxpayers are held harmless in this process. And that‟s a legitimate debate, and I encourage that debate. But what‟s not legitimate is to suggest that somehow the legislation being proposed is going to encourage future taxpayer bailouts, as some have claimed. That makes for a good sound bite, but it‟s not factually accurate. It is not true.

(Applause.) In fact, the system as it stands -- the system as it stands is what led to a series of massive, costly taxpayer bailouts. And it‟s only with reform that we can avoid a similar outcome in the future. In other words, a vote for reform is a vote to put a stop to taxpayer-funded bailouts. That‟s the truth. End of story. And nobody should be fooled in this debate. (Applause.)

By the way, these changes have the added benefit of creating incentives within the industry to ensure that no one company can ever threaten to bring down the whole economy.

To that end, the bill would also enact what‟s known as the Volcker Rule -- and there‟s a tall guy sitting in the front row here, Paul Volcker -- (applause) -- who we named it after. And it does something very simple: It places some limits on the size of banks and the kinds of risks that banking institutions can take. This will not only safeguard our system against crises, this will also make our system stronger and more competitive by instilling confidence here at home and across the globe. Markets depend on that confidence. Part of what led to the turmoil of the past two years was that in the absence of clear rules and sound practices, people didn‟t trust that our system was one in which it was safe to invest or lend. As we‟ve seen, that harms all of us.

So by enacting these reforms, we‟ll help ensure that our financial system -- and our economy -- continues to be the envy of the world. That‟s the first thing, making sure that we can wind down one firm if it gets into trouble without bringing the whole system down or forcing taxpayers to fund a bailout.

Number two, reform would bring new transparency to many financial markets. As you know, part of what led to this crisis was firms like AIG and others who were making huge and risky bets, using derivatives and other complicated financial instruments, in ways that defied accountability, or even common sense. In fact, many practices were so opaque, so confusing, so complex that the people inside the firms didn‟t understand them, much less those who were charged with overseeing them. They weren‟t fully aware of the massive bets that were being placed. That‟s what led Warren Buffett to describe derivatives that were bought and sold with little oversight as “financial weapons of mass destruction.” That‟s what he called them. And that‟s why reform will rein in excess and help ensure that these kinds of transactions take place in the light of day.

Now, there‟s been a great deal of concern about these changes. So I want to reiterate: There is a legitimate role for these financial instruments in our economy. They can help allay risk and spur investment. And there are a lot of companies that use these instruments to that legitimate end -- they are managing exposure to fluctuating prices or currencies, fluctuating markets. For example, a business might hedge against rising oil prices by buying a financial product to secure stable fuel costs, so an airlines might have an interest in locking in a decent price. That‟s how markets are supposed to work. The problem is these markets operated in the shadows of our economy, invisible to regulators, invisible to the public. So reckless practices were rampant. Risks accrued until they threatened our entire financial system.

And that‟s why these reforms are designed to respect legitimate activities but prevent reckless risk taking. That‟s why we want to ensure that financial products like standardized derivatives are traded out in the open, in the full view of businesses, investors, and those charged with oversight.

And I was encouraged to see a Republican senator join with Democrats this week in moving forward on this issue. That's a good sign. (Applause.) That's a good sign. For without action, we‟ll continue to see what amounts to highly-leveraged, loosely-monitored gambling in our financial system, putting taxpayers and the economy in jeopardy. And the only people who ought to fear the kind of oversight and transparency that we're proposing are those whose conduct will fail this scrutiny.
Third, this plan would enact the strongest consumer financial protections ever. (Applause.) And that's absolutely necessary because this financial crisis wasn‟t just the result of decisions made in the executive suites on Wall Street; it was also the result of decisions made around kitchen tables across America, by folks who took on mortgages and credit cards and auto loans. And while it‟s true that many Americans took on financial obligations that they knew or should have known they could not have afforded, millions of others were, frankly, duped. They were misled by deceptive terms and conditions, buried deep in the fine print.

And while a few companies made out like bandits by exploiting their customers, our entire economy was made more vulnerable. Millions of people have now lost their homes. Tens of millions more have lost value in their homes. Just about every sector of our economy has felt the pain, whether you‟re paving driveways in Arizona, or selling houses in Ohio, or you're doing home repairs in California, or you‟re using your home equity to start a small business in Florida.

That‟s why we need to give consumers more protection and more power in our financial system. This is not about stifling competition, stifling innovation; it‟s just the opposite. With a dedicated agency setting ground rules and looking out for ordinary people in our financial system, we will empower consumers with clear and concise information when they‟re making financial decisions. So instead of competing to offer confusing products, companies will compete the old-fashioned way, by offering better products. And that will mean more choices for consumers, more opportunities for businesses, and more stability in our financial system. And unless your business model depends on bilking people, there is little to fear from these new rules. (Applause.)

Number four, the last key component of reform. These Wall Street reforms will give shareholders new power in the financial system. They will get what we call a say on pay, a voice with respect to the salaries and bonuses awarded to top executives. And the SEC will have the authority to give shareholders more say in corporate elections, so that investors and pension holders have a stronger role in determining who manages the company in which they‟ve placed their savings.

Now, Americans don‟t begrudge anybody for success when that success is earned. But when we read in the past, and sometimes in the present, about enormous executive bonuses at firms -- even as they‟re relying on assistance from taxpayers or they‟re taking huge risks that threaten the system as a whole or their company is doing badly -- it offends our fundamental values.

Not only that, some of the salaries and bonuses that we‟ve seen creates perverse incentives to take reckless risks that contributed to the crisis. It‟s what helped lead to a relentless focus on a company‟s next quarter, to the detriment of its next year or its next decade. And it led to a situation in which folks with the most to lose -- stock and pension holders -- had the least to say in the process. And that has to change. (Applause.)

Let me close by saying this. I have laid out a set of Wall Street reforms. These are reforms that would put an end to taxpayer bailouts; that would bring complex financial dealings out of the shadows; that would protect consumers; and that would give shareholders more power in the financial system. But let‟s face it, we also need reform in Washington. (Applause.) And the debate -- the debate over these changes is a perfect example.

I mean, we have seen battalions of financial industry lobbyists descending on Capitol Hill, firms spending millions to influence the outcome of this debate. We‟ve seen misleading arguments and attacks that are designed not to improve the bill but to weaken or to kill it. We‟ve seen a bipartisan process buckle under the weight of these withering forces, even as we„ve produced a proposal that by all accounts is a commonsense, reasonable, non-ideological approach to target the root problems that led to the turmoil in our financial sector and ultimately in our entire economy.
So we‟ve seen business as usual in Washington, but I believe we can and must put this kind of cynical politics aside. We‟ve got to put an end to it. That‟s why I‟m here today. (Applause.) That‟s why I‟m here today.

And to those of you who are in the financial sector, let me say this, we will not always see eye to eye. We will not always agree. But that doesn‟t mean that we‟ve got to choose between two extremes. We do not have to choose between markets that are unfettered by even modest protections against crisis, or markets that are stymied by onerous rules that suppress enterprise and innovation. That is a false choice. And we need no more proof than the crisis that we‟ve just been through.

You see, there has always been a tension between the desire to allow markets to function without interference and the absolute necessity of rules to prevent markets from falling out of kilter. But managing that tension, one that we‟ve debated since the founding of this nation, is what has allowed our country to keep up with a changing world. For in taking up this debate, in figuring out how to apply well-worn principles with each new age, we ensure that we don‟t tip too far one way or the other -- that our democracy remains as dynamic and our economy remains as dynamic as it has in the past. So, yes, this debate can be contentious. It can be heated. But in the end it serves only to make our country stronger. It has allowed us to adapt and to thrive.

And I read a report recently that I think fairly illustrates this point. It‟s from Time Magazine. I‟m going to quote: “Through the great banking houses of Manhattan last week ran wild-eyed alarm. Big bankers stared at one another in anger and astonishment. A bill just passed… would rivet upon their institutions what they considered a monstrous system… such a system, they felt, would not only rob them of their pride of profession but would reduce all U.S. banking to its lowest level.” That appeared in Time Magazine in June of 1933. (Laughter and applause.) The system that caused so much consternation, so much concern was the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, also known as the FDIC, an institution that has successfully secured the deposits of generations of Americans.

In the end, our system only works -- our markets are only free -- when there are basic safeguards that prevent abuse, that check excesses, that ensure that it is more profitable to play by the rules than to game the system. And that is what the
reforms we‟ve been proposing are designed to achieve -- no more, no less. And because that is how we will ensure that our economy works for consumers, that it works for investors, and that it works for financial institutions -- in other words, that it works for all of us -- that‟s why we‟re working so hard to get this stuff passed.

This is the central lesson not only of this crisis but of our history. It‟s what I said when I spoke here two years ago. Because ultimately, there is no dividing line between Main Street and Wall Street. We will rise or we will fall together as one nation. (Applause.) And that is why I urge all of you to join me. I urge all of you to join me, to join those who are seeking to pass these commonsense reforms. And for those of you in the financial industry, I urge you to join me not only because it is in the interest of your industry, but also because it‟s in the interest of your country.

Thank you so much. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you. (Applause.)

END 12:16 P.M. EDT

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Dept. 2010 Legislative Conference

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AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Dept. 2010 Legislative Conference



The Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO convened its annual National Legislative Conference from in Washington, DC. Over 2,000 national, state and local labor leaders were in attendance to hear Vice President Biden and Energy Sec. Steven Chu speak.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

VVA RADIO MESSAGE APRIL 19 - THÀNH KÍNH PHÂN ƯU CÙNG DÂN TỘC BA LAN VỀ SỰ RA ĐI CỦA TT KACZYNSKI - PHỎNG VẤN TS ĐINH XUÂN QUÂN VỀ BẦU CỬ CỘNG ĐỒNG


VVA RADIO MESSAGE APRIL 19 - THÀNH KÍNH PHÂN ƯU CÙNG DÂN TỘC BA LAN VỀ SỰ RA ĐI CỦA TT KACZYNSKI - PHỎNG VẤN TS ĐINH XUÂN QUÂN VỀ BẦU CỬ CỘNG ĐỒNG TẠI NAM CALI NGÀY 18 THÁNG 4, 2010 - TS ĐINH XUÂN QUÂN SẼ NÓI VỀ: "VÀI Ý KIẾN VỀ QUY TRÌNH XÂY DỰNG CỘNG ĐỒNG VIỆT NAM TẠI NAM CALIFORNIA"


RADIO VIETNAM HAI NGOAI
LẬP PHÁP VÀ CỘNG ĐỒNG
DO VOICE OF VIETNAMESE AMERICANS phụ trách
Thứ Hai 19 tháng 4 năm 2010 – 4pm EST / 1pm PST


MP3 - Xin bấm vào để nghe
Audio file này chỉ có hiệu lực trong 1 tuần. Xin vui lòng download để giừ lại.



Ngọc Giao xin chào mừng quý thính giả đến với Chương Trình Lập Pháp và Cộng Đồng do Tiếng Nói Người Mỹ Gốc Việt phụ trách, phát thanh mỗi thứ hai, lúc 4 giờ chiều từ Thủ Đô Hoa Thịnh Đốn.

Trước khi bắt đầu bản tin hôm nay, Ngọc Giao xin kính mời quý đồng hương khắp nơi dành một phút thành kính tiễn đưa Cố Thổng Thống Ba Lan Kaczynski và phu nhân, cùng một số tùy viên của ông và 94 người Ba Lan khác đã tử nạn máy bay ngày 10 tháng 4 vừa qua. Hàng triệu người Ba Lan đã đổ về thủ đô Warsaw, để tỏ lòng thành kính và tiễn đưa vị tổng thống và đệ nhất phu nhân của họ.


Cố Tổng Thống Ba Lan Kaczynxki và phu nhận

Biography of Lech Kaczynsky - CNN

Lech Kaczynski | The Economist


BBC - Obituary: Lech Kaczynski




Tang lễ cử hành trọng thể trong đau buồn và thương tiếc của người dân Ba Lan và toàn thế giới - Ba Lan đã rất chừng chạc tiễn đưa vị lãnh đạo tài ba của mình, chứng tỏ cho thế giới nỗ lực của Cố Tổng Thống Kaczynsky tạo nền tảng vừng vàng cho đất nước nhỏ bé mà kiên cường này.

Tổng thống Ba Lan Lech Kaczynski là nhân vật gây nhiều tranh cãi trên trường quốc tế nhưng quan điểm cực hữu của ông trong nhiều vấn đề được nhiều người Ba Lan đón nhận, đặc biệt là cử tri truyền thống và nông thôn. Ông được xem là người có chủ trương dân tộc, có bản lĩnh và mưu lược, và có đời sống rất bình dị, gần gũi dân chúng, không thích xa hoa hay phô trương. Ông cũng được xem là người có khả năng lèo lái Ba Lan vững vàng khi đương đầu với Nga, phân biệt rõ sự đồng minh với dân tộc Nga nhưng cương quyết chống Cộng Sản và tinh thần thực dân, bành trướng của Nga Xô Viết. Hoàn cảnh của Ba Lan dưới áp lực của Nga Xô Viết có thể xem là tương tự như Việt Nam dưới ách Cộng Sản và áp lực nặng nề của Trung Quốc. Nhiều người Việt tỵ nạn Cộng Sản tại Ba Lan đã rất được nâng đỡ và thông cảm vì sự đồng cảnh ngộ này.

Việc Tổng Thống Ba Lan Kaczynski điều hành đất nước song song với người em song sanh của ông còn nhắc đến sự tương đồng giữa anh em John F Kennedy và Robert Kennedy, hay anh em Cố Tổng Thống Ngô Đình Diệm và Ngô Đình Nhu của Việt Nam Cộng Hòa.

Tổng thống Lech Kaczynski nắm quyền từ 2005. Sau cuộc bầu cử năm 2005, Ba Lan có hai anh em nhà Kaczynski cùng làm lãnh đạo - Lech làm tổng thống, và Jaroslaw làm thủ tướng từ năm 2006. Theo hiến pháp Ba Lan, tổng thống có ít quyền lực hơn thủ tướng, nhưng có vai trò đáng kể trong chính sách ngoại giao.

Chính sách của Lech Kaczynski là đại diện tốt nhất cho lợi ích của Ba Lan ở châu Âu. Ông là chính trị gia lớn của trào lưu cánh hữu quốc gia và đưa nó vào Liên minh châu Âu.

Ông không bài Nga hay Đức, và càng không muốn đối đầu với hai cường quốc láng giềng. Ông biết rất rõ đây là hai đối tác chính trị và kinh tế quan trọng, nhưng ông tỏ thái độ cứng rắn, không muốn bị áp đặt và quyền tự quyết bị xâm phạm. Ông không chống nước Nga mà chỉ lên án chế độ cộng sản Xô-Viết, chủ nghĩa Stalin và đòi hỏi Kremlin nhìn nhận sự thật lịch sử. Ông không cũng chống Kremlin mà chỉ chỉ trích nhân quyền bị vi phạm, báo chi truyền thông bị kiểm soát ở nước Nga.

Trong suốt sự nghiệp chính trị của mình, ông không ngại đánh động tình cảm dân chúng.
Ông được bầu lên làm tổng thống Ba Lan vào năm 2005 trong vai trò ứng viên từ đảng Pháp luật và Công lý.

Trong quá trình tranh cử, ông Kaczynski khẳng định là người Ba Lan cần một tổng thống có thể đứng ra bảo vệ quyền lợi của họ.

Ông nói nước Ba Lan thời hậu cộng sản, thường được gọi là "Đệ tam cộng hòa", cần cải tổ toàn diện thành "Đệ tứ cộng hòa", dựa trên một nhà nước mạnh và pháp quyền xã hội.
Đảng Pháp luật và Công lý, nhấn mạnh đến các giá trị truyền thống của Giáo hội công giáo La Mã, được ông Kaczynski cùng người anh em song sinh Jaroslaw lập ra năm 2001.
Nhưng họ đã giữ vai trò quan trọng trong quá trình tạo dựng ra bản sắc Ba Lan thời hậu cộng sản.

Cha của họ là cựu chiến binh từ Đệ nhị thế chiến và từ các câu chuyện của ông về những anh hùng Ba Lan mà ông Kaczynski đã xây dựng tinh thần dân tộc Ba Lan cho mình.

Ông Kaczynski hưởng dương 60 tuổi, ra đi để lại cho dân Ba Lan nhiều thương tiếc.

Là con một gia đình có truyền thống khởi nghĩa, từ lúc còn là sinh viên năm thứ nhất, tháng 3 năm 1968, ông theo người em song sinh tham dự biểu tình chống đối chính quyền.

Năm 1979 ông tốt nghiệp luận án tiến sĩ luật và giảng dạy ở đại học Gdansk, thường xuyên làm nhiệm vụ chuyển tài liệu bất hợp pháp từ Warsaw tới Gdańsk.

Năm 1980 khi công nhân dình công ở nhà máy đóng tàu Gdansk, ông đến ở lại nhiều ngày với họ dù không mang theo quần áo để thay, và cũng không biết rồi hậu quả sẽ ra sao khi mạo hiểm đối đầu với chế độ. Tháng 8 năm 1988, lại thấy ông tại nhà máy tham gia các cuộc đình công tiếp theo.

Ông bị bắt giữ nhiều lần và ngồi tù một năm vì tham gia hoạt động trong Công đoàn Đoàn kết. Năm 1989, ông tham gia “Hội nghị Bàn tròn” lịch sử đàm phán với chính quyền cộng sản, rồi trở thành cộng sự gần gũi của thủ lĩnh Công đoàn Đoàn kết Lech Walesa, Tổng thống dân chủ đầu tiên, với chức Bộ trưởng an ninh (1990).

Sau xung đột với Lech Walesa (1991) và bị quốc hội đa số cánh tả bãi nhiệm chức Chủ tịch Ủy ban Kiểm tra Tối cao (1995), ông từ giã chính trị.

Năm 2000, đang đi tàu tới gặp gỡ các sinh viên khoa luật, ông nhận được điện thoại của Thủ tướng Buzek mời làm Bộ trưởng Tư pháp. Ông báo ngay cho vợ lúc ấy đang đi mua đồ ăn. Vợ đồng ý.

Thế là ông quay lại chính trường. Bằng bàn tay sắt, ông đã làm giảm sút hẳn tình tạng tội phạm ở Ba Lan, gây được uy tín trong quần chúng. Nhân đà, năm 2001 ông cùng người em thành lập đảng “Luật pháp và Công lý” (PiS). Chỉ bốn năm sau, là ứng viên của PiS ông trúng cử Tổng thống, cùng một lúc với chiến thắng của PiS tại quốc hội và em ông đứng đầu chính phủ (2005-2007).


Thẳng thắn nói về quan điểm chống đối chính quyền Ba Lan vào năm 1977, nhưng Lech Kaczynski cũng không giấu diếm sự do dự của mình bấy giờ, thậm chí cả cảm giác hai mặt. Ông cũng không che giấu sự chỉ đạo tư tưởng của người em song sinh. Nếu không có người em, có lẽ bây giờ ông là giáo sư đại học có khuynh hướng thiên tả.

Với chức Tổng thống, tự đóng vai người bảo vệ di sản Ba Lan, trong mắt một số người thuộc giới tinh hoa và truyền thông, ông là người ngớ ngẩn. Không có sự hiểu lầm nào lớn hơn.

Lòng yêu nước đã nhắc nhở ông ghi nhớ các anh hùng Ba Lan trong mọi cuộc nổi dậy. Cho đến lúc ông trả giá bằng cái chết khi thực hiện nhiệm vụ tại khu rừng lịch sử Katyn, mọi người mới nhận ra.

Mặc dù với tất cả tính chuyên nghiệp, ông hay có những phản ứng căng thẳng và nổi nóng đến hài hước. Ông mệt mỏi với các trách nhiệm nhà nước nặng nề. Đôi khi ông mạo hiểm thái quá, ví dụ chuyến công du đến Tbilisi vào năm 2008, đối mặt với cuộc chiến Nga-Gruzia.

Có thể nghi ngờ về một động thái chính trị có chủ ý. Nhưng nhiều người đã rơi lệ khi nghe ông nói tại quốc hội Gruzia về thân phận và mối đe dọa chung cho hai dân tộc nhỏ trước tham vọng phục hồi đế chế của Nga.

Chính sách của Lech Kaczynski là đại diện tốt nhất cho lợi ích của Ba Lan ở châu Âu. Ông là chính trị gia lớn của trào lưu cánh hữu quốc gia và đưa nó vào Liên minh châu Âu.

Ông không bài Nga hay Đức, và càng không muốn đối đầu với hai cường quốc láng giềng. Ông biết rất rõ đây là hai đối tác chính trị và kinh tế quan trọng, nhưng ông tỏ thái độ cứng rắn, không muốn bị áp đặt và quyền tự quyết bị xâm phạm. Ông không chống nước Nga mà chỉ lên án chế độ cộng sản Xô-Viết, chủ nghĩa Stalin và đòi hỏi Kremlin nhìn nhận sự thật lịch sử. Ông không cũng chống Kremlin mà chỉ chỉ trích nhân quyền bị vi phạm, báo chi truyền thông bị kiểm soát ở nước Nga.

Tiếc thay, không phải lúc nào ông cũng được hiểu đúng, thậm chí còn gây ác cảm cho Berlin và Moscow. Tuy nhiên, với tư tưởng hội nhập châu Âu sáng suốt, ông đã ứng xử khôn ngoan trong thời gian cuối và được mọi người nhìn nhận, tôn trọng.

Trong lễ tang của ông dự kiến có sự hiện diện của cả Tổng thống và Thủ tướng Đức, cũng như Tổng thống Nga.

Ông cũng đã được Moscow mời dự lễ 65 năm chiến thắng phát xít Đức vào tháng 5 tới, với sự tham gia duyệt binh của quân đội Ba Lan cùng với Hoa Kỳ, Anh, Pháp. Những sự kiện này nói lên rất nhiều.

Di sản của ông và của những người Ba Lan tử nạn tại Smolensk ngày 10/04 là sự mang lại cái nhìn đúng đắn về lịch sử, là cơ hội có tính bước ngoặt cho tiến trình đoàn kết và phát triển hợp tác giữa ba dân tộc Nga, Đức, Ba Lan – tiến trình có thể làm thay đổi tích cực bản đồ địa chính trị của cả châu Âu.

Thế giới đang trải qua nhiều cơn khủng hoảng bất ngờ và to lớn , những thách thức mà chỉ những hệ thống nào đứng vững trên nền tảng xã hội dân chủ mới có cơ hội vượt qua. Ba Lan đã được khen ngợi là xử lý đàng hoàng và chuẩn mực vụ Tổng thống Lech Kaczynski tử nạn.

[* Bản tin này được trích dẫn và tổng hợp từ bản tin BBC.]

Thưa quý thính giả, người Mỹ gốc Việt chúng ta xin được thành kính phân ưu cùng dân tộc Ba Lan, câu mong dân Ba Lan sớm vượt qua thử thách này để vững tiến trên con đường xây dựng một nước Ba Lan dân chủ, tự do, phú cường, hài hòa trong Liên Hiệp Âu Châu và thế giới, chứ không bị chèn ép bởi các cường quốc như Nga hay Đức.

Trong tình đồng cảnh tương lân, hy vọng Việt Nam cũng sẽ học được nhiều bài học quý từ Ba Lan, và sẽ chung vai sát cánh với dân tộc Ba Lan trong việc tranh đấu và bảo đảm quyền lợi cùng an sinh cho các nước nhỏ trên thế giới.

Thưa quý thính giả, đến đây Ngọc Giao hân hạnh mời Tiến Sĩ Đinh Xuân Quân đến nói chuyện với chúng ta về Cuộc Bầu Cư Cộng Đồng tại Nam Cali ngày hôm qua, Chủ Nhật 18 tháng 4, với trên 30,000 người tham dự và được xem là rất thành công. Tiến Sĩ Đinh Xuân Quân là tiến sĩ kinh tế, lại là chuyên gia phát triển quốc gia nên rất nhiều kinh nghiệm về tổ chức guồng máy hành chánh và bầu cử để đặt căn bản cho một nền dân chủ lâu dài. Tiến Sĩ Đinh Xuân Quân thường đi làm việc xa, tại các nước thứ ba ở Nam Phi, Tây Phi, hay Trung Á, nên đây là dịp hãn hừu ông ghé về Cali để chứng kiến và tham dự cuộc bầu cử cộng đồng này.

TS ĐINH XUÂN QUÂN SẼ NÓI VỀ: "VÀI Ý KIẾN VỀ QUY TRÌNH XÂY DỰNG CỘNG ĐỒNG VIỆT NAM TẠI NAM CALIFORNIA"

Xin kính chào Tiến Sĩ Đinh Xuân Quân.

Tiểu sửTS Đinh Xuân Quân

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Lá Thư của Ban Tổ Chức Bầu Cử và Lịch trình vận động bầu cử

Cộng đồng Nam California tấp nập bầu ban đại diện

Bầu Cử Ban Ðại Diện Cộng Ðồng Nam California: Tranh luận lần cuối trước ngày 18 tháng 4

Khủng hoảng lớn của thế giới trong tuần qua là vấn đề tro bụi núi lửa bao phủ bầu trời Âu Châu.

Các bộ trưởng giao thông của Liên Hiệp Châu Âu họp khẩn cấp qua truyền hình video về cuộc khủng hoảng hàng không, hậu quả của tình trạng tro bụi núi lửa bao phủ bầu trời Châu Âu.

Đến nay, đã có hơn 6,8 triệu hành khách bị ảnh hưởng trong lúc cuộc khủng hoảng đang bước sang ngày thứ năm.

Các sân bay và các hãng hàng không đang đặt câu hỏi là liệu có cần phải tiếp tục áp dụng lệnh ngừng bay hay không, vốn tiêu tốn của các hãng 200 triệu đô la mỗi ngày.
Hiệp Hội Vận Tải Hàng Không Quốc Tế (IATA) đã chỉ trích cách phản ứng của các chính phủ ở châu Âu.

Người đứng đầu IATA Giovanni Bisignani nói tại một cuộc họp báo ở Paris: "Chúng ta phải tránh khỏi lệnh đóng cửa này và từng bước tìm cách mở cửa không phận một cách linh hoạt."

Các vùng không phận vẫn đóng cửa toàn bộ hoặc từng phần ở hơn 20 quốc gia.

Trở lại tin Hoa Kỳ,


Như thường lệ, chúng ta sẽ có phần Tin Lập Pháp cấp Liên Bang, Tin Lập Pháp cấp Tiểu Bang, Tin Nhân Quyền Việt Nam và tin Cộng Đồng. Hôm nay, Ngọc Giao hân hạnh mời quý thính giả cùng nghe Tiến Sĩ Đinh Xuân Quân nói về cuộc bầu cử của cộng đồng người Mỹ gốc Việt tại Nam California được tổ chức ngày hôm qua, Chủ Nhật 18 tháng 4, nói lên tiến trình sinh hoạt dân chủ của người Việt tại Nam Cali.

Trước tiên, xin mời quý thính giả nghe tin Lập Pháp cấp Liên Bạng

Cuộc thăm dò dư luận do BBC Thế Giới Vụ thực hiện cho kết quả là trên thế giới, quan điểm về nước Mỹ đã được cải thiện mạnh mẽ trong năm qua.
Lần đầu tiên kể từ khi các cuộc thăm dò dư luận hàng năm được thực hiện hồi 2005 tới nay, ảnh hưởng của nước Mỹ trên thế giới năm nay mới được kết quả tích cực nhiều hơn là tiêu cực.

Phóng viên BBC nhận xét thời kỳ nước Mỹ được tăng điểm cũng trùng với thời gian ông Barack Obama lên làm tổng thống.

"Tuy vẫn còn thua kém các nước như Đức và Anh, nhưng vị trí toàn cầu của Hoa Kỳ rõ ràng đã tăng trở lại."

Giám đốc Pipa, Steven Kull nhận xét: "Sau một năm, rõ ràng "hiệu ứng Obama" là điều có thật."

Hy vọng Hoa Kỳ sẽ giừ vai trò của mình và chính thức can thiệp vào tình hình tranh chấp tại vùng biển Đông Nam Á Châu, giừ vừng an ninh cho thế giới, chứ không riêng gì cho Việt Nam.

Một ngư lôi của Trung Quốc đã dạt vào vùng biển của Việt Nam và lực lượng biên phòng đã có giám định thiết bị này.

Theo truyền thông trong nước, ngày 10/4/2010, trong lúc kéo lưới cá tại vùng biển Thuận An, Thừa Thiên Huế, một ngư dân đã kéo lên được một quả ngư lôi đang trong tình trạng chưa kích hoạt nổ có chiều dài 7m, đường kính 0,6m.

Các ngư dân đã trục vớt quả ngư lôi lên tàu rồi tiếp tục ra vùng biển Quảng Bình và bốn ngày sau đó khi trở về họ nộp ngư lôi cho Trạm kiểm soát Biên phòng cửa khẩu Cảng Gianh của Quảng Bình.

Nguồn lính biên phòng từ cửa khẩu Cảng Gianh nói với BBC: "Cái ấy dài 7,3m, chu vi 1,7m, đuôi có ba cánh và một cánh phụ nữa là bốn cánh.

"Bọn tôi ở đây khi thuyền đưa vào thì trên chỉ đạo về là phải cách ly và bàn giao cho các lực lượng."

Báo chí Việt Nam cho biết công binh đã cử cán bộ giám định vào Cửa khẩu cảng Gianh và xác định đó là ngư lôi diễn tập của Trung Quốc được sản xuất vào tháng 9/2009. Không thấy bình luận gì tại sao quả ngư lôi trôi dạt vào vùng biển Việt Nam.

Hy vọng chính quyền Việt Nam sớm lên tiếng để bảo vệ mạng sống của ngư dân Việt trong vùng biển này.

Thưa quý thính giả, vì thời giờ có hạn, Ngọc Giao xin được ngưng chương trình Lập Pháp và Cộng Đồng tại đây. Xin hẹn quý vị thứ hai tuần tới, cũng vào 4 giờ chiều, gi Hoa Thịnh Đốn. Chúc quý vị một buổi chiều an lành và xin kính chào tạm biệt.

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Fairfax County Chairman's Remarks on Mark-Up Package for FY 2011 Budget

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Picture: Fairfax County Chairman Sharon Bulova

Earlier today, our Board adopted a Mark-Up Package that amends the County Executive's Advertised Budget for FY 2011. The Mark-Up Package that I brought to the Board is the culmination of an unprecedented level of community engagement and I'm grateful to everyone who took the time to contact me regarding this budget.

Below are my remarks from this morning summarizing this package's changes to the County Executive's original proposal. Additionally, attached to this message, you'll find the accompanying Board motions and a detailed list of adjustments. The package adopted by the Board today is a balanced budget that, despite $91.3 million in reductions over last year, maintains critical services, is sensitive to the taxpayer, and protects the quality of life we value in Fairfax County.


Chairman's Remarks on Mark-Up Package



STONE SOUP

As we worked through our budget process for adoption of the Fiscal Year 2011 Budget, I was reminded of an old story called "Stone Soup".

According to one variation of the story: tired, hungry soldiers came upon a little village. When they inquired about food, the villagers were reluctant to share their food stores, worried that their limited supply would become depleted.

And so, the soldiers set down their gear in the village square and produced a large pot. They filled the pot with water and a large stone, then set it over a fire. A few curious villagers walked over and asked what the soldiers were making. The captain explained that they were making something called stone soup, which tasted wonderful, but probably needed just a few more ingredients. He offered to share the soup with the villagers once it was finished.

One of the villagers returned and offered to supplement the soup with a few potatoes, which he diced and put into the simmering water. Another villager produced a bunch of carrots and another offered to share a few onions from her garden. These small but tasty contributions continued throughout the day.

Eventually the soup pot was full of a hearty, delicious soup. That evening, the entire village joined the soldiers in a satisfying feast of Stone Soup.

Last year this time, our country was reeling from the effects of the worst economic breakdown in most of our lifetimes. On this date last year, with property values plunging and homeowners challenged with foreclosures and job losses, we adopted a budget which closed a projected shortfall of $650 million. That $3.3 billion General Fund budget included $90.8 million of reductions and represented a decrease of $91.9 million from the previous year Revised Budget.

We started our budget process for Fiscal Year 2011 well before any dust could settle on the adoption of Fiscal Year 2010. While the number is coming down we are still challenged with foreclosures, more than 700 in March 2010. Residential property values have continued to decline, this year by approximately 6% and commercial property values dropped over 18%.


In addition, as we began the process we anticipated reductions from the State as they attempted to close their $4.2 billion budget shortfall. We continue to be challenged with increasing demands on County services from families and individuals turning to us for help with food stamps, utility assistance, rent and housing assistance and finding employment. These dynamics all combine to challenge us once again to close a projected shortfall - this time of $257.2 million.

As in the story of Stone Soup, the process of closing that shortfall has been one of impressive community engagement, creativity and collaboration among County staff and our non-profit partners.

What began as a seemingly empty pot, is a balanced budget that, despite $91.3 million in reductions over last year, maintains critical services, is sensitive to the taxpayer, and protects the quality of life we value in Fairfax County.

Coupled with a positive formula change (of $61 million) in the Local Composite Index (LCI) - State Funding to localities - our $1.6 billion Transfer to the Schools fully funds the Schools Board's requested budget and leaves them with a $45 million balance for future Virginia Retirement System (VRS) requirements.

The $3.3 billion Budget we are about to adopt is full of reorganizational changes and efficiencies that help reduce the cost for providing services, and in many, perhaps most cases, improves the delivery of those services and programs. Some of the major areas for reorganization are:

* Community and Recreation Services and Department of Systems Management for Human Services
* Senior Services
* Department of Family Services Internal Reorganization
* Community Services Board (CSB) Internal Reorganization
* Systems of Care
* Code Enforcement
* Clerk to the Board and Planning Commission



This Mark-up process amends the County Executive's Advertised Budget and is the culmination of an unprecedented level of community engagement. Community Dialogues were held throughout the County during the fall and early winter. Throughout late February, March and early April more than 20 Town Meetings and Forums were hosted to receive feedback on the Advertised Budget. Brown Bag lunches and Employee Budget Briefings and Dialogues were organized by County Executive Tony Griffin and by our Unions and Employee organization.

And lastly hundreds of speakers attended three days - over 20 hours - of public hearings.

Like the villagers' contributions in the story of Stone Soup, this generous level of public engagement enriched our process and has resulted in a better product.

When we adopt our budget, we are investing in the priorities of our community. I am glad to have had the community at the table with us during these months.


Highlights of our FY 2011 Budget Mark-up include:


* The Budget we are about to adopt is based on a Real Estate Tax Rate of $1.09, an increase of 5 cents.

* It includes a 1/2 cent increase in the Stormwater Service District Levy. Both of these rates result in a net reduction for the average homeowner's bill of $26.93.

* The Budget includes a Vehicle Registration fee of $33.00 per vehicle for most vehicles. Most other localities in Virginia utilize this fee to provide local services

* The Sewer Service charge increases by 77 cents/1,000 gallons, from $4.50 to $5.27. This fee increase addresses aging sewer infrastructure and compliance with State and Federal Clean Water and environmental mandates. Our rates continue to be among the lowest in the region.

* The Fiscal Year 2011 General Fund (Schools & General County Combined) Budget is a 2.7% reduction from the previous year.

* The Fairfax County Public Schools continue to be over 53% of the County's General Fund Budget.

I will now move approval of the separate motions for the FY 2010 Third Quarter Review and the FY 2011 Mark-up.

FY 2010 Third Quarter Review


I move approval of the FY 2010 Third Quarter Review including approval of Supplemental Appropriation Resolution AS 10145 and Amendment to the Fiscal Planning Resolution AS 10901which includes the revenue, expenditure and transfer adjustments and grant awards and adjustments and associated reserve adjustments contained in the County and School's Third Quarter Review and Supplemental Appropriation Resolution AS 09162 which reflects final FY 2009 audit adjustments.

FY 2011 Budget Mark-Up

* I will now move approval of the FY 2011 Mark-up budget proposal. As the Board

is aware, this budget:

* Sets the real property tax rate at $1.09 per $100 of assessed value. As a result of this action, the real property tax rate for calendar year 2010 will increase by $0.05 over the real property tax rate for calendar year 2009 of $1.04 per $100 of assessed value.

* Adopts Article 17.2, Chapter 4 of the Fairfax County Code to establish Local Vehicle Registration License fees for FY 2011,

* Amends Fairfax County Code Section 4-22-2 to impose the Courthouse Facilities Fee on Civil Cases

* Sets the Stormwater Service District levy at $0.015 per $100 of assessed value.

* Amends the Fairfax County Code, Chapter 67.1, Article 10, Section 2, Subsection (d) Service Charges to maintain the sewer service charges on a multi year basis as included in the ordinance amendment. The effect of this approval for FY 2011 is a sewer service charge rate of $5.27 per 1,000 gallons. This is an increase from the FY 2010 service charge of $4.50 per 1,000 gallons.

* Amends the Fairfax County Code, Chapter 67.1, Article 10, Section 2, Subsection (a) Availability Charges to maintain the availability charges on a multi year basis as included in the ordinance amendment. As a result of this motion, the availability fee for a single family residence increases to $7,750 from $7,310 in FY 2010

* Approves the County Executive's recommendations for the FY 2011 Advertised Budget Plan, as Advertised with FY 2011 revenue and administrative adjustments as identified in the FY 2011 Add-on memo dated April 8, 2010, and with adjustments outlined in the Board of Supervisors' "Adjustments to the FY 2011 Budget Proposal" package which follows.


Summary of FY 2011 Budget Proposal

1. Using a $21.7 million Reserve established through agency/ department savings throughout Fiscal Years 2009 and 2010 anticipating State Reductions the following adjustments are made which reduce the reserve to $11.6 million:

* Reduced by known State Reductions of approximately $3.1 million

* Hold $7 million aside for additional State Reductions and Critical Funding issues for both the County and Schools.

2. Add additional Revenue from Courthouse Facilities Fee of $96,000

3. Reduce Board of Supervisors' Office Budgets by 2%, resulting in $81,350, which is used to add one position to the Auditor to the Board's office. The Auditor to the Board acts as an Inspector General's Office, and works through the Board's Audit Committee.

4. Use Remaining Balance of $11.7 million for Restorations and adjustments to the Advertised Budget

* In the area of Human Services and as recommended by the Human Services Council and the Community Services Board, a total of $1.4 million has been restored, including:

* Mental Health Adult Day Treatment Sites,
* Home Respite for individuals with Intellectual Disability Services
* Emergency Services at Mount Vernon Center and Northwest Center for Community Mental Health,
* Substance Abuse Counselor Positions in Prevention Services, at Cornerstone, and in Jail Services
* Mental Health Forensic Staff Position at Adult Detention Center,
* Partial restoration for Domestic and Sexual Violence Services & limited- term support for Commission for Women

* For the Police Department, a total of $2.9 million has been restored, including:

* School Resource Officers in Middle Schools
* 50% of Police Citizen Aide Positions at District Stations
* Marine Unit
* Traffic Safety Officers

* For the Fire & Rescue Department, a total of $2.5 million has been restored, including:

* Basic Life Support units
* Seventh Fire & Rescue Battalion
* Hazardous Material Support Unit
* Second set of gear for firefighters
* Fireboat Patrols on the Potomac River and Pohick

* A total of $1.9 million has been restored for Parks and Library Services, including:

* Approximate 3% restoration to Libraries to maintain Tuesday evening hours at all 8 regional libraries
* Library Access Services
* Parks Athletic Field Maintenance Program
* Parks Grounds maintenance staff (including restoration of restrooms)
* Nighttime court lighting and lighting for practice fields
* Parks Truck Driver and Heavy Equipment (mobile crew) positions
* Operation and management at Martin Luther King Jr. Pool

* This budget includes a net total of $2.7 million in Other Restorations and Adjustments, including:

* All CONNECTOR route reductions (except for partial reduction of stand-by buses
* Note: Bicycle Program coordinator position is not eliminated.
* 5 Law Clerks supporting Circuit Court Judges
* Support for Families4Kids to non-profit - to be funded from Human Services Transition Reserve
* Mount Vernon District Satellite Intake Center
* Fairfax Magistrates are transferred from General District Court to the Office of the Sheriff

5. This Budget also fully funds the Priority 1 requirements of the Board Adopted Affordable Housing Blueprint through the use of $4 million in operating revenues from the Wedgewood complex to fund the Bridging Affordability portion of the Blueprint and recommended funding in the CIP (Capital Improvement Plan) for the capital projects at Lincolnia, North Hill and Lewinsville).

6. As mentioned above, this Mark-up Adjustment maintains the Fairfax County Public School Transfer at the County Executive's recommended level which is a reduction of 1%, or $16.1 million. Coupled with a positive formula change (of $61 million) in the Local Composite Index (LCI) - State Funding to localities - our $1.6 billion Transfer to the Schools fully funds the Schools Board's requested budget and leaves them with a $45 million balance for future Virginia Retirement System (VRS) requirements.

As a result of the adjustments I have just discussed, and having provided public notice and conducted a public hearing as required by Virginia law, I move approval of the FY 2011 Budget as Advertised, with the changes to Revenue and Administrative Adjustments included in the FY 2011 Add-On Package dated April 8, 2010, the Real Property Tax Rate, Vehicle Registration License Fee, Courthouse Facilities Fee, Stormwater Service District Levy, Sewer Service Charge and Availability Fee and Board Adjustments outlined in the "Adjustments to the FY 2011 Budget Proposal" package which follows. The tax and fee increases become effective on and after July 1, 2010. Copies of the amended sections of the Code are included at each Board member's seat. These actions result in a balanced budget for FY 2011.



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Legislative Session Roundups: OR, WA, VA, IA & ID

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PERMALINK:

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2010 Legislative Session Roundups


- Session Roundup: Washington

- Session Roundup: Iowa

- Session Roundup: Oregon

- Session Roundup: Virginia

- Session Roundup: Idaho

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2010 Legislative Session Roundups

As legislative sessions come to a close, PSN highlights positive gains, legislative defeats, and unfinished business. This Dispatch will feature state legislative session roundups for Oregon, Washington, Virginia, Iowa, Idaho.

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By: ALTAF RAHAMATULLA
Session Roundup: Washington


Despite confronting a $2.8 billion deficit and 9.5 percent unemployment rate, Washington state lawmakers were able to score key progressive victories this year. Although tax and budget issues were undoubtedly the predominant legislative focus, elected officials made significant strides on several issues during both the regular and special session, including, children's health, workers' rights, weatherization, and providing initial foundation for the implementation of federal health care reform.

Tax and Budget: Lacking a personal or corporate income tax and as a result, the state's revenue dropped almost 9 percent last year, only exacerbating the pain for Washington's working families. To the ire of many conservative legislators, progressives achieved a major accomplishment in late February when Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a temporary suspension of Initiative 960, which required a two-thirds legislative majority to approve tax increases. Accordingly, budget discussions became quite intense and forced the Governor to call lawmakers back to Olympia for a special session. In the end, legislators came together and passed a revenue package that allowed the state to preserve basic education, all-day Kindergarten, a health care program for low-income Washingtonians, childcare services, and funding for higher education.

The budget agreement will raise approximately $757 million in new revenue from a $1 increase in the cigarette tax; extending the sales tax to bottled water, candy and gum; raising the beer excise tax by 50 cents per gallon; a temporary tax on soda that will amount to 2 cents per 12 oz. can; imposing a 0.3 percent temporary business and occupation tax surcharge on service-industry businesses, including lawyers, accountants, real estate companies, and hairdressers, for the next three years; and adopting economic nexus, which will require some out-of-state corporations to pay taxes on the business they conduct in the state of Washington.

The plan provides tax credits for "candy companies, awarded on the basis of jobs, and a doubling in the business tax exemption for small businesses." The Legislature additionally allotted funding for the Working Families Tax Rebate, championed by the Washington State Budget and Policy Center, based on the federal Earned Income Tax Credit.

However, the Legislature also approved $120 million in cuts to public education, reduced funding for state universities and community colleges by $73 million, and directed state agencies to seek $50 million in savings through furloughs.

Health Care: During the budget process, lawmakers were able to maintain funding for Washington Basic Health, providing assistance to working families to access affordable health care. Even still, the program continues to be plagued by long waiting lists, now approaching 100,000 applicants who need access and assistance in meeting their health care needs.

Although the state's Attorney General, Rob McKenna, joined others in a misguided, costly, and partisan lawsuit against federal health care reform, the state still took crucial steps in establishing foundation for the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Affordability Act. Gov. Gregoire signed Executive Order 10-01, forming the Health Care Cabinet, which will be composed of the state Health Care Authority administrator, the state Health Department Secretary, the Department of Social and Health Services Secretary, and the Governor's Executive Policy Director and state Budget Director. The group is responsible for guiding the initial stages of implementing reform.

Gov. Gregoire also offered a spirited rebuttal of Attorney General McKenna's actions and defended the right of all Washingtonians to access affordable and quality health care.

Elections: In response to voter confusion in King County last November over a ballot initiative, Rep. Scott White introduced HB2496 to improve the clarity of ballot design and ensure that the voter instruction section is clearly delineated from the actual substance of the measure. Upon passage of the bill, the state's Election Director, Nick Handy, commented, "[t]his legislation is a major step forward in ensuring that ballots are designed to be more voter friendly. [Our goal is] having ballots that are clear and readable and that assist the voter in moving down the ballot with ease. We want the civic act of voting to be enjoyable, and not perplexing in any way."

The Washington Senate also called on Congress to amend the Constitution to reverse the Supreme Court's Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (FEC) decision, which gave corporations the same First Amendment rights as citizens in advocating for politicians. SJM 8027 states, "[f]or the past three decades, a divided United States Supreme Court has misinterpreted the First Amendment favoring the corporations' agenda over the people's voice...(and the) Supreme Court's ruling threatens to dilute an individual's power as a voting citizen and compromise the democratic process."

Weatherization and Green Jobs: In approving Sen. Claudia Kauffman's SB6468, the Legislature provided critical funding for weatherzation and energy efficiency initiatives. The legislation will additionally allow for structural rehabilitation assistance and is estimated to spur job creation. Rep. Hans Dunshee introduced a green jobs bill, HB 2561, that would fund energy cost saving improvements to public facilities and issue general obligation bonds to support energy repair and retrofitting work at public schools, state colleges, and universities. The $505 million bond authorization would be placed before voters in the general election this coming November. Analysts estimate that the initiative would create 30,000 new jobs and save state residents $190 million annually. Both the House and Senate approved the measure and it awaits the Governor's signature.

In a related jobs and smart growth move, the state enacted the Washington Works Housing Program, HB 2753, to create $1 billion in housing for the working poor within proximity of transit to allow more convenient access to employment. This initiative will create thousands of prevailing wage construction jobs and provide housing equity for low-income workers.

Environmental Protection: Washington became only the second state to take on the issue of bisphenol A (BPA) by enacting SB 6248, the Safe Baby Bottle Act, to eliminate BPA from food and beverage containers intended for children under the age of three. The legislation will also prohibit the use of BPA in sports bottles. Sen. Karen Kaiser, the main sponsor of the bill, commented, "I'm very pleased that Washington state is once again a leader in taking action to limit potentially harmful chemical exposures, especially for infants and young children."

Advocates were also pleased that state budget preserved funding for evironmental priorities such as toxic contamination cleanup, air quality, water quality, water resources and habitat protection.

Workers' Rights: To strengthen enforcement authority to prevent wage theft violations, HB3145 extends the time period to investigate wage complaints and increases the penalty for violators. HB 1560 will now allow employees of four-year institutions to engage in multi-employer bargaining, while SB 5046 will put symphony musicians under the jurisdiction of the public employment relations commission for purposes of collective bargaining.

Education: The Legislature approved several significant education bills. Though the state initially refrained from the first round of the federal Race to the Top grant competition, SB6696 enacts accountability measures and other reforms that will allow the state to enter the running this summer. HB1418 creates a statewide reengagement system that permits school districts to enter into agreements with educational service districts, community or technical colleges, and other public institutions to offer services to former students, including GED preparation, counseling, and instruction. HB3026 ensures that all students enjoy the same basic civil rights and protections. Finally, HB2776 creates a new distributional funding formula, expands state spending on the public education system, and will likely increase the state's educational investment by billions of dollars.

Protecting Children: Sen. Kauffman sponsored S6470, which will provide stronger protections for Native American children in the state's welfare system and make sure they are not unnecessarily removed from homes.

Medical Marijuana: In approving SB5798, the Legislature expanded its medical marijuana program and permitted licensed health care professionals, such as nurse practitioners and physicians' assistants, to authorize the use of marijuana for patients with terminal or debilitating illnesses.

Notable Initiatives that Did Not Pass:

* Financial Reform: Rep. Bob Hasegawa introduced HB 3162 this year, a bill that would create a state bank modeled after the Bank of North Dakota, the only state-owned bank in the country.
* Vaccines: After the state's vaccination program was eliminated due to budget cuts last year, the Legislature worked swiftly to attempt to provide vaccination coverage for Washington's children. Sen. Kaiser introduced S6263, which would have created the Washington Vaccine Association, but the bill did not pass this session.
* Elections: Since a contentious judicial election in 2006, lawmakers have been attempting to move a pilot program for public financing of state Supreme Court elections. Unfortunately, SB5912 died in committee.
* Unemployment Insurance: In an effort to alleviate the pain of the long-term unemployed, several legislators sponsored SB2647, to allow certain state residents to seek part-time employment while still retaining eligibility to receive unemployment insurance.
* Initiative Process Reform: SB6754 aimed to strengthen the initiative process and provide protections for state residents against fraud and false declarations.
* Corporate Transparency: Rep. Hasegawa intended to provide further protections for Washington taxpayers by pursuing augmented transparency of the state's spending. HB2110 would have required a tax expenditure report as part of the biennial budget documents, but failed to pass the House.
* Hazardous Substance Tax: The Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters advocated for an increase in the state's hazardous substance tax to clean up polluted waterways. HB3181/SB6851, or the Clean Water Act of 2010, would have increased the tax 2 percent and raised an additional $225 million a year for stormwater improvement projects.

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By: FABIOLA CARRION
Session Roundup: Iowa


Like other states, Iowa battled the effects of the national recession and state revenues that were 4.27 percent lower than last year. Legislators managed to balanced the state budget without making major cuts in public services, while ifunding job creation programs, and increasing aid for local education. The state also made major reforms in its own state heatlh care system, enact tax credit reforms, pass reforms to hold corporate campaign spending accountability to the public and shareholders, and protected the interests of veterans in the state.

In the end, lawmakers were able to balance $180 million in their budget and put a total of $200 million into the state's savings accounts. Several reforms took place to achieve a balanced legislative package, most notably the first substantial reorganization of state government in almost 25 years. The Legislature's biggest achievements were found in the areas of tax and health care reform, which shared the goals of transparency and better consumer protection. Health care patients and insurance consumers are among the biggest winners, as well as veterans and students. With more transparency in tax credits, it is hoped that the revenue that is desperately needed will finally reach Main Street. Support continued for small businesses, including renewable energy producers, and job-seekers.

Budget and Job Creation: Several reforms took place to achieve a balanced legislative package, most notably the first substantial reorganization of state government in almost 25 years to save an estimated $125 million, combined with early retirement packages for state employees to save an additional $190 million.
Combined with tax credit reform, this all helped overcome the deficts faced by lawmakers, while allowing them to fund jobs programs to lay the groundwork for future economic growth. The latter measures included:

* SF 2389 invests nearly $274 million for infrastructure projects, to continue the I-JOBS public works program, and to help small businesses grow. Through SF 2389, the Iowa legislature maintained its commitment to the Iowa Values Fund, the state's job-creation initiative.
* Also, HF 2522 connects unemployed workers with new employers and with state services by providing $18.3 million to Iowa's workforce centers. These workforce centers, 55 in total, provide job counseling, training, placement and assistance.
* The Iowa legislature also agreed to make new low-interest loans available to help small businesses create jobs and strengthen Iowa's Small Business Development Centers [HF 2522]. A new website will be developed as a central point for small business assistance

Education: Despite the tough budget situation, legislators voted to increase state aid to local schools by $145 million in order to recruit and keep good teachers in the classrooms, expand pre-school programs and make sure students graduate with the skills they need to land a good job. In order to keep the tuition of higher education institutions down, the legislature also approved SF 2376 to provide community colleges $10 million and more than $550 million to public universities.

Health Care Reform: Many initiatives were implemented to expand health care to more Iowans. Building on the IowaCare Program, which enrolls 32,000 Iowans and is aimed primarily at adults (age 19-64) whose adjusted gross income is no higher than twice the federal poverty level (200% FPL), the Legislature enacted SF 2356 to expand the provider network to include regional community health centers available across the state, principally in rural areas. Members of the regional provider network must be certified medical homes, as established by DHS. The bill received support from the AARP and the American Cancer Society's Iowa Director who declared, "Starting July 1, low-income, uninsured cancer patients from across the state will no longer need to travel long distances to Iowa City for treatment, which has long been an unnecessary barrier to the lifesaving care they need."

In addition, SF 2356 creates the Iowa Insurance Information Exchange, administered by the Insurance Commission, to allow Iowans to obtain information on an ongoing basis about health care coverage options, including comparison of benefits, premiums, and out-of-pocket expenses.

After Iowa's largest health insurance carrier announced an 18 percent insurance rate hike last month, the Legislature enacted the Insurance Company Accountability Plan, SF 2201, which calls for a detailed annual report from the Iowa Insurance Commissioner on health care spending and health insurance in Iowa, including rate increase data, health care expenditures, ranking factors that raise or lower costs in each insurance plan and other data. Other provisions include public hearings on rate health insurance increase applications before they are approved, notification of rate increase applications to all policyholders, and immediate notice of any insurance plan changes, so that Iowans can budget accordingly.

To protect consumers against rate increases due to catastrophes affecting their credit scores, SF 2075 will protect families suffering death or serious illness, a military deployment, identity theft, a natural disaster or an extended job lay-off from insurance rate increases due to lower credit scores created because of that catastrophic event. Insurance companies are required to tell consumers when their rates are being raised because of a lower credit score.

Tax Credit Reform: In reaction to several scandals surrounding excesses around Iowa's business tax credit programs and subsequent shortfalls in state revenues, the Iowa legislature passed HF 2527/SF 2380 to ensure that tax credits receive a careful and regular examination. The legislation highlights include:

* Suspension of the film tax credit program for three years
* Cutting the Supplemental Research Activities Tax Credit (RATC) in half for large corporations and shifting part of the savings to research and development incentives for small businesses
* Lowering the overall cap on business tax credit from $185 million to $120 million
* Cutting the Iowa Fund of funds contingent tax credits from $100 million to $60 million
* Cutting other tax credit programs by 10 percent

While a great step ahead, the Iowa Fiscal Project argues that the final law will likely deliver only a fraction of the $115 million it promises to save. Advocates had hoped for broader reforms, including a five-year sunset on all tax credit, the elimination of the transferability of other credits, and the complete elimination of the refundability of RATC for large companies to achieve broader effect. Although the law also establishes a 10-member panel of legislators to review a set of tax credits for the next five years, advocates would have preferred additional public access to information about tax credits and expenditures.

Campaign Finance:
Reacting to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC that declared corporations legal "persons" and eliminated restrictions on independent campaign expenditures by corporations, Iowa's SF 2354 was introduced as a way to regulate corporate involvement in campaigns. Under this new law, a corporation cannot use its treasury to pay for an independent expenditure without the approval of a majority of the board of directors or similar leadership body in the same year as the expenditure. Any material or ads produced by the corporation must include the "paid for by" attribution, the name and address of the corporation, and the name and title of the chief executive officer. 1000 Friends of Iowa, and others believe it is among the strongest campaign disclosure policies in the country, although Iowa Citizen Action Network Executive Director Betty Ahrens argued that "ultimately the solution that we need to keep pushing for is a voluntary public financing option."

Veterans:
Iowa has passed numerous measures to assist veterans and their families. For instance, the Governor signed an expansion of jobless benefits for the spouses of soldiers who are forced to quit their jobs when their husband or wife is deployed overseas. Under the state's unemployment compensation laws, workers who voluntarily leave their jobs are usually not eligible for jobless benefits. This new law makes an exception for the spouses of deployed soldiers. As the bill's opponents worried about the impact on the business trust fund that finances jobless benefits, backers assured that the number of claims is likely to be very small, and could be financed by interest generated by money in the trust fund. In addition, a provision has been included to ensure that the business' tax levy is not altered.

Clean Energy:
With nearly 20 percent of the electricity produced in Iowa coming from wind, Iowa is now the second largest wind producer in the country with more than 200 businesses that supply parts or services to support wind energy production. To build on that strength, the Legislature approved its fourth and final year of the Iowa Power Fund (HF 2531), the $100 million program first enacted in 2007, along with other legislation to expand the production of Iowa-grown renewable energy. Unfortunately, it did not receive the Governor's signature.

Disappointment on Failure of Labor Reforms: While appreciating solid budget achievements, labor advocates were frustrated that key workers rights and labor reforms stalled during the 2010 session. Defeated bills included one to expand the subjects subject to collective bargaining, as well as HF 2420, which would have allowed unions to negotiate reasonable reimbursements for the costs of representing workers in a unit, while still allowing each employee to choose whether or not to become a union member or take part in other union activities, was not passed. And a paid sick days bill, SF 2337, while approved in a Senate committee, did not move forward.

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By: SUMAN RAGHUNATHAN
Session Roundup: Oregon


Despite its brief legislation session, Oregon's State Legislature used progressive revenue increases to protect key priorities and pass major progressive bills to expand economic justice for job seekers and those seeking credit, extend environmental protections, protect religious freedom of teachers, stop predatory banking practices, and protect public employee whistleblowers.

A Smooth Budget Session Following Voter Approval of Progressive Revenue Increases: The Oregon State Legislature's 2010 Special Session began just days after the state's voters overwhelmingly approved two important ballot measures to ratify important laws passed in 2009 that would temporarily increase personal income and corporate taxes on the state's wealthiest residents and corporations. The two ballot measures, Measures 66 and 67, spearheaded by the Vote Yes for Oregon effort, are widely viewed as a progressive approach to dealing with the state's $4.2 billion budget deficit for FY 2010 and 2011 by temporarily increasing taxes on the state's highest-earning households (those with annual incomes above $250,000) and increasing the minimum tax on corporations operating in the state. Measures 66 and 67 will generate over $700 million in state revenue in the coming fiscal year.

Combined with budget cuts from the 2009 session, reserve funds, money from a tax amnesty program and reduced green energy tax incentives, the state was able to address an estimated $185 million deficit shortfall, although there are still worries that the state will likely face additional shortfalls when the legislature meets in 2011. With HB 3680, legislators reformed the business energy tax credit (BETC) to save the state $54.4 million in the current biennium and $86 million in the 2011-2013 biennium. A major success was approving SB 5565, which ensures that the $6 billion budgeted over two-years for public schools would be delivered to school districts around the state.

To help spur local job growth, the state approved HB 3698, which establishes the Building Opportunities for Oregon Small Business Today (BOOST) program to provide grants and loans to small businesses (less than 100 employees) in order to create full-time positions and fill the positions with employees who had been unemployed for at least 60 days.

Education Reforms: To support improved educational accountability and transparency in online education, HB 3660 will establish improved governance and finance models and promote access to online learning for students with disabilities and other obstacles. A second bill, HB 3688, makes illegal the practice of offering cash "incentives" for enrollment in a charter school.

With major implications for non-discrimination against observant Muslims and others, the state passed HB 3686, which will allow teachers or other public educators to wear religious garb but makes the effective date two years from now while a task force to review some of the complex legal issues involved. The bill will overturn a law banning religious dress dating back to the early part of last century when the legislature wanted to prevent nuns from teaching in the public schools.

Workers Rights and Wage Standards: With the passage of SB1045, the Job Applicant Fairness Act, Oregon joined Hawaii and Washington to become only the third state in the nation to bar employers (with a few exceptions) from using job applicants' credit histories as a screening tool during the hiring process. Despite opposition from the major credit agencies, who have attempted to draw a connection between poor credit and an employee's likelihood to commit fraud, hearings on the bill allowed advocacy group Our Oregon to build on public frustration with banks, creditors, and now credit agencies who have preyed on consumers-- all to build support for economic fairnesss. Our Oregon also worked to highlight and capitalize on the credit agency TransUnion lobbyist being forced to admit in a public hearing, "At this point we don't have any research to show any statistical correlation between what's in somebody's credit report and their job performance or their likelihood to commit fraud."

The legislature also expanded protections for public employees to report fraud and waste under the state's whistle-blower law via SB 996."

A couple of bills will ensure that public monies support decent wage standards in the state. HB 3651 will require that the prevailing wage be paid on public works projects involving the construction or installation of solar energy systems on premises, structures, or buildings owned by a public body. HB 3618 will modify the law governing home care services to provide workers' compensation to more home care workers beginning January 1, 2011, and makes such workers eligible for representation and collective bargaining.

Stopping Predatory Banking Practices:
The State Legislature also expanded consumer protections in the home loan and credit arenas. HB 3706 adds home loans and credit products (previously exempt) to the state's consumer protection law, the Unlawful Trade Practices Act. As a result, the State Department of Justice and private individuals now have the ability to prosecute big banks and lenders when they engage in predatory lending. Many other states' consumer protection laws already include consumer credit products. The state's payday lenders must now obtain a license to conduct business with the passage of SB 993; and HB 3610 allows homeowners facing foreclosure who are denied a loan modification the right to demand to see their lenders' calculations.

In another move fueled partly by anger over abuses by large banks, HB 3700 will allow public bodies starting in 2013 to deposit public funds in a credit union instead of a bank for the first time in order to reduce fees and maximize resources for public services.

Environmental Protection: On the environmental front, the Legislature passed HB 3613, which provides a ten-year extension of the state's moratorium against offshore drilling. Environment Oregon reports a coalition of environmentalists, fishermen, and coastal residents joined forces to continue this protection of Oregon's shores and marine life. The state also approved SB 1059, a statewide effort to plan and coordinate livable communities that reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions - the product of 'grasstops organizing', according to Environment Oregon.

Unfortunately, the governor vetoed HB 3704, a measure approved by the legislature that would have allowed for the creation of an Oregon Beverage Cooperative to create drive-through redemption centers to assist bottle recycling and potentially replace the individual store redemption system currently in place in the state.

Environmental advocates report they came very close to passing SB 1009, which would have imposed a ban on the chemical BPA in children's products. The proposed measure died in a deadlock 15-15 vote on the Senate floor, underlining the sustained clout of the plastics industry. Advocates report continued hope next year for a state Senate bill to ban plastic bags, which had widespread and bipartisan support, but was ultimately sacrificed to allow a floor vote for the bill to ban BPA. With the demise of this bill, advocates are planning to advance SB 1009 in the 2011 legislative session and prevent plastic bags from floating into the Pacific from the state's waterways.

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By: ENZO PASTORE
Session Roundup: Virginia

The 2010 General Assembly adjourned March 14th, one day later than scheduled, and was dominated by a single overriding issue: unprecedented cuts to state spending and core services once thought to be untouchable. After grappling with the greatest decline in state revenues since World War II, the legislature enacted major budget reductions in all areas of state government, while failing to enact any real revenue increases to offset the damage to state services. And with the latest state revenue report for February showing tax collections for that month down nearly 7 percent from February 2009, there's every indication that things will worsen before they improve.

The two-year $83 billion HB 30 blueprint for state operations, which takes effect on July 1st, cuts billions in necessary funding for education, health care, public safety and transportation. As the new budget imposes no new taxes and only about $100 million in new fees, it leaves city and county governments to make up for state cuts with the choice of curbing local services, boosting local taxes or a combination of both. Although the cuts were not as severe as once expected, the budget crisis will continue as vital services and local governments feel the effects of the cuts.

Thankfully, despite vocal right-wing support, the legislature refused to make the budget problem worse and rejected HB 119 and its companion, SB 671, which would have eliminated Virginia's corporate income tax beginning in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

Education Cuts: Included in the two year budget was a huge $253 million cut in state support for local public school districts. This will mean larger class sizes, an extension in the life of school buses from 12 to 15 years, eliminating non-teaching staff jobs, and reductions in public library funding. At one time during the 2010 legislative session, K-12 cuts were forecast to approach $700 million. But even though the education cuts were not nearly as deep as initially proposed, advocates for teachers and other school staff say a $253 million decrease in public education funds will still result in the elimination of tens of thousands of jobs.

Health Care Cuts and Grandstanding Against Federal Reform: Even as some state leaders attacked federal health reform efforts, they based their state health budget on help from the federal government. Health care for the indigent, disabled and elderly, will also take a big budget hit unless the state receives about $370 million in federal Medicaid funding. In addition to new restrictions on program eligibility, without the federal aid, hospitals, nursing homes, doctors and other health providers will see their already lean reimbursements for treating Medicaid patients reduced by another 7 percent by 2012.

By passing HB 10, Virginia became the first state to supposedly ban the new federal provision that requires individuals to purchase health insurance, although the law will no doubt be thrown out in court. The law was also accompanied by similar political grandstanding by the Attorney General's lawsuit to block the mandate contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The legislature did reject HB 345, which would have required the state to withdraw from the Medicaid program upon passage of federal health care reform.

In other anti-consumer health legislation, SB 642 authorizes health maintenance organizations to offer and sell to small employers group health care plans for health care services that do not include all of the state-mandated health insurance benefits.

Transparency on Tax Expenditures: In a positive move for transparency, the enactment of HB 355 will require the State Tax Commissioner to issue an annual tax expenditure report to the General Assembly and to post on its website a summary of information of taxpayers claiming corporate income tax relief.

Big Steps Back, But a Few Steps Forward on Clean Energy and Conservation: A number of bills seeking to expand offshore oil drilling were enacted (HB 756, HB 787, SB 394), while the state Air Board will be barred from requiring power plants in non-attainment areas to reduce pollution under HB 1300/SB 128.

A group of seventeen state legislators denounced Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for the financial costs to the state and misguided public policy in filing a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency's finding that carbon dioxide is a threat to human health and may be regulated by the EPA. Cuccinelli has added to his "states rights" grandstanding in declaring his intention to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's new Clean Car Rule.

Land conservation programs faced drastic cuts, although the cap on the transfer fee for the state Land Preservation Tax Credit was lifted (HB 447 and SB 264) which s expected to raise around $2 million a year for organizations that hold conservation easements throughout Virginia.

Environmentalists were able to defeat SB 181 and HB 1395, which would have subsidized sprawl by handing out potentially unlimited bonus payments to private developers of toll roads, while the legislature did enact HB 1071 to encourage density in urban development areas.

Two progressive bills addressing clean energy legislation were signed by the Governor. House Bill 803 and its Senate companion, S623 allows a $500 income tax credit for the creation of green jobs for taxable years beginning on and after January 1, 2010. The credit is provided for up to 350 new green jobs and may qualify the taxpayer for the Enterprise Zone Grant program if the job is located in an enterprise zone.

Capital Punishment: With a governor supportive of expanding capital punishment finally in office, many observers were relieved at the defeat of a number of death penalty bills. SB 7 to make accomplices to murder eligible for the death penalty was defeated in a Senate committee that had approved the effort in past years, apparently swayed by arguments about the costs of making more crimes eligible for the death penalty. Also defeated in committee was SB 54 to expand capital punishment to include those who killed various emergency responders while on duty, including fire marshals, firefighters, special forest wardens and emergency medical technicians. The Legislature however did pass House Bill 934, which added auxiliary police officers and auxiliary deputy sheriffs to the capital murder statute so that the death sentence can be imposed for their murder.

Other notable defeats for progressives included:

* Government Transparency:
HB 778 was killed in the Senate Rules Committee this session on a 13-2 vote. The bill would have provided legislators' voting records on the General Assembly's website. (The website already tracks the outcome of every recorded vote, it simply doesn't allow visitors to list the votes by legislator.) Officially, the bill was "continued to 2011″ (meaning held over for further consideration next year) but most bills continued to the next year are quietly killed before the session even begins.
* Gay Rights: Two bills, HB 1116 and SB 66, would have established non-discrimination requirements for all state employees, including the category of sexual orientation. Unfortunately, both bills were killed in subcommittee.
* Immigration: Senate Bill 462 was designed to prevent law enforcement officers from asking crime victims and cooperating witnesses about their immigration status during the course of their criminal investigation

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By: NORA RANNEY
Session Roundups: Idaho


While the Legislature is challenged with a record‐setting economic downturn not seen in 75 years, leadership had a strong focus on wrapping up the session in March (each day at the legislature costs $30,000) and consequently kept the number of bills down this year. According to legislative staff, "fiscal year 2009 revenues dropped 15.3 percent from the previous year, fiscal year 2010 revenues were projected to drop another 7.5 percent, and fiscal year 2011 revenues were projected to be flat. Amidst this 23 percent overall drop in revenues, the Legislature faced increasing school enrollments, growing Medicaid caseloads, and increasing prison inmate growth."

When the Legislature adjourned in late March, it had been in session for 78 days - one of the shortest sessions on record. However, this did not keep lawmakers from enacting far-reaching legislation and placing punitive restrictions on the immigrant community.

Health and Human Services: As a result of Federal Health Care Reform, state conservative elected officials worked to put up roadblocks to reform:

* H 391 - The Idaho Health Freedom Act codifies as state policy that every person in the state is and shall continue to be "free from government compulsion in the selection of health insurance options, and that such liberty is protected by the constitutions of the United States and the state of Idaho." The Act prohibits any state official or employee from enforcing any penalty that violates the policy and requires the Attorney General to seek injunctive or other appropriate relief and to defend the state of Idaho and its officials and employees against laws enacted by any government that violates the policy. This law will spend $100,000 or more on a lawsuit against the federal government and puts the state's federal health care matching funds ($1.6 billion) at risk, as well as benefits from measures that provide affordable access to health insurance and closes the Medicare Part D prescription drug "doughnut hole."
* Both chambers stressed this anti-federal mantra by passing HCR 64, calling for an amendment to the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the interstate commerce clause to limit the role of the federal government, as well as SJM 106, urging Congress to amend the Constitution to "make no law requiring citizens of the United States to enroll in, participate in or secure health care insurance or to penalize any citizen who declines to purchase or participate in any health care insurance program." While these resolutions and memorials do not carry the force of law, they are intended to send a message to Congress encouraging action.
* S 1353, dubbed the "Freedom of Conscience Bill," allows all health care professionals to refuse to provide any "end of life care and treatment" that violates their "conscience." That includes living wills, advance directives, or any other end-of-life instructions can be ignored. The bill became law despite strong opposition from AARP and the public. The bill was also opposed by Planned Parenthood for its actions against emergency contraception.
* H 708 contains Medicaid costs by reducing reimbursement, by cutting incentives that are unaffordable in the current economic environment and by requiring pharmacies to participate in cost surveys in order to obtain accurate and current prices. While more individuals are turning to Medicaid for valuable health services, $22 million in cuts (over $100 million coupled with the federal matching funds) would severely scale back important programs, including home care -- which could prematurely force some seniors into costly nursing homes.

According to the AARP, "Public retirees won - eventually. But Idahoans will lose because of the state's fight over health care reform." The winners in AARP's rundown include:

Idaho State Retirees: A cost of living adjustment in tight times for the elderly. After a hotly contested debate over the modest Cost of Living Allowance, Senator John Andreason refused to give House Concurrent Resolution 42 a hearing, effectively delivering the increase to 38,000 state retirees. The resolution, introduced by Rep. Dennis Lake, marked the first time in Idaho history the legislature challenged a recommendation by the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho (PERSI) board.

Grandparents: H 610, introduced by Rep. Sharon Block, places grandparents at the top of the list for consideration as foster parents when children have been removed from their parent's homes. The bill, which has been signed into law, also expedites the process, and gives grandparents better legal standing to obtain custody.

Older Drivers: Family is the focus of older driver issues. When a doctor thinks a patient should no longer be driving, they can contact the Idaho Dept. of Transportation and recommend their license be revoked. S 1397 now puts patients first, helping them and their families have a conversation with the physician about the concerns and options before any action. The bill passed the Senate, did not get a hearing in the House, but is expected to be taken up and passed in the next legislative session.

Voter ID: H 496, introduced by Rep. Mike Moyle, would require all voters to show photo ID before casting their ballot - the bill was revamped from last year to address the concerns of older voters, and now allows anyone without a photo ID to sign an affidavit. The bill passed both the Senate and House and has been sent to the Governor.

Immigration: Despite a large push by Sen. Mike Jorgenson, major anti-immigrant bills largely stalled this year. Jorgenson's S 1303 was a broad and punitive measure to crack down on employment by prohibiting employers from hiring non-residents, limits the driver's license test to English-only, and makes "sanctuary cities" ineligible for state grants. According to the Idaho Weekly, Jorgenson got his bill from Kris Kobach, recently profiled in The New York Times, and his law school class at the University of Missouri Kansas.

Two other bills, H 497 and SB 1271,
which sought to penalize businesses that "knowingly" hire undocumented immigrants, both failed.

Economic Development: H 525 provides additional sources of funding for the Film and Television Production Business Rebate Fund including grants, federal moneys, donations and funds from any other source. The Governor signed these economic incentives into law and no fiscal impact report was provided. Rep. Raul Labrador, a Republican, and Congressional candidate, introduced H 489 to stop City Councils from creating Local Improvement Districts (LIDs) of more than $250,000 without the support of either 60 percent of resident owners or two-thirds of all property owners within the district. This is an effort to strip local authorities of power to raise revenues. LIDs specifically operate to raise revenue for infrastructure improvements within cities.

Education: According to legislative staff, "nearly all of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and Public Education Stabilization Fund (PESF) monies were used in FY 2009 and FY 2010 to avoid significant public school budget reductions. The result of using these one‐time reserve funds, coupled with continued weak revenues, is that significant reductions were necessary for FY 2011. Specifically, the FY 2011 appropriation is $128.5 million less than the previous year."

In a creative financing scheme, S 1354 authorizes school districts to build and operate thermal energy systems to make hot and chilled water for heating school facilities; allows schools to sell excess thermal energy and use the revenue for general operating expenses within a local school district; and amends existing statute adding the thermal energy facilities as a school bonding purpose.

In an effort to address the fiscal stress on Higher Education, H 544 creates the Higher Education Stabilization Fund to provide a reserve to minimize the impact of economic downturns on higher education.

H699 requires school districts with more than 300 students to develop and maintain a publicly available website and, by the end of 2011, to post their expenditures in either a pdf format, a spreadsheet or in a database format.

Idaho House Bill No. 543 - Idaho Education Network aims to "connect each public high school with a scalable, high-bandwidth connection, including connections to institutions of higher education as necessary."

According to the Idaho Education Network, subsequent phase considerations will be delivered in partnership with local entities and may include:

* Enhancement of rural bandwidth to public entities.
* Direct connectivity to each elementary and middle school to IEN.
* The addition of libraries to the IEN.
* Migration of state agency locations from IdaNet or current technology and services.

H 636 requires each local school district in the state to adopt and file an Internet use policy with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction that requires filtering technology to block materials that are harmful to minors and establish disciplinary measures for violators.

Criminal Justice: H 631 grants the Idaho State Police the authority to transmit certain court records to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for inclusion in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System Database for the purpose of determining eligibility to receive or possess a firearm under state or federal law and establishes a petition process for the removal of a person's firearms‐related disabilities.

Changes were made to rape statutes in the states with the passage of S 1385. The bill revises the definition of what is commonly known as "statutory rape," which previously included defined sexual relations between a female who has not reached the age of 18 and a male. This bill amends the definition of statutory rape to include defined sexual relations where the perpetrator is 18 years or older and the female is under the age of 16, and where the female is 16 or 17 and the perpetrator is 3 or more years older than the female. Such revisions were also made to the male rape statute.

Taxation: In an effort to save cuts to vulnerable social programs, H 630 temporarily increases the maximum amount of the income tax credit that individual and corporate taxpayers may receive for donations to schools, Idaho Public Television, Idaho State Historical Society, libraries, museums, Commission on Hispanic Affairs, Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Idaho Council on Developmental Disabilities, Idaho State Independent Living Council, and the Idaho Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. This was an effort to save cuts to these vulnerable programs.

Other tax-related legislation included:

* H 386 revises how withdrawals from the state college savings account are added to taxable income; revises the income tax credit for research activity; and provides that the addi‐ tional income tax credit for capital investment shall be calculated on the amount of qualified investment made during the project period.
* H 490 provides that a Board of County Commissioners may declare that all or a portion of the market value of a defined project, based on investment in new plant and building facilities meeting certain tax incentive criteria, shall be exempt from property taxation.
* H 596 provides that certain improvements on state college and state university lands may be included on the new construction roll and that such improvements shall be exempt from property taxation.

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Resources
Session Roundup: Washington


Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Recession Continues to Batter State Budgets
Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy - Who Pays?
The Olympian - Budget Plans Ready to Go
Pew Center on the States - Beyond California: States in Fiscal Peril
Progressive States Network - Progressive Legislators Challenge Right-Wing Obstruction on Health Care
Progressive States Network - Update:Options for Reining in Corporate Election Cash in Wake of Citizens United Supreme Court Decision
The Seattle Times - Analysis: Scorecard for the 2010 Wash. Legislature
The Seattle Times - Lawmakers end session with taxes, services cuts
Washington Education Association - Dorn's take on legislative session: 'Relatively pleased'
Washington State Budget and Policy Center - A Primer on the Working Families Tax Rebate
Washington State Budget and Policy Center - Overview of 2010 Budget Measures
Washington State Labor Council - Legislative Tracker
Session Roundup: Iowa

Quad-City Times - Iowa Democratic Leaders Defend Spending Plan
The Iowa Independent - AARP Praises Legislature for Health Care Advances
Globe Gazette - IowaCare to Offer Services Closer to Those in Need
Progressive States Network - Shared Agenda: Corporate Transparency in State Budgets
AARP - AARP Applauds Passage and Signing of SF 2201
Radio Iowa - Business, Labor Groups Unhappy with 2010 Legislature
Sioux City Journal - Culver Signs New Benefits for Military Families
1,000 Friends of Iowa - Legislative Updates and Action Alerts
WhoTv - Full Disclosure: New Rules for Campaign Finance Disclosure in Iowa
Session Roundup: Virginia

The Commonwealth Institute
Progressive States Network - Virginia in the News
Virginia Organizing Project
Legislative Coalition of Virginia Nurses - 2010 General Assembly Summary
Richmond Sunlight
The Washington Examiner - Va. Assembly Approves Pared-Back Spending Plan
Virginia League of Conservation Voters - Virginia Legislative Action Center
Session Roundup: Idaho

Idaho Citizen's Legislature - 2010 Sine Dine Report
AARP - Here's How the New Idaho Legislation Will Affect You
Boise Weekly's City Desk - Legislature
Idaho Statesman - Idaho Legislature
Steps Forward

1. SD: Stimulus Funds Secures 7,000 Jobs in This Year

2. AR: Judge Strikes Gay Adoption Ban

3. MD: State Changes How Prisoners Are Counted in Census
Steps Back

1. AZ: State to Allow Concealed Weapons Without Permit

2. MS: Foreclosures More Than Double
Masthead

The Stateside Dispatch is written and edited by:

Nathan Newman, Executive Director
Nora Ranney, Legislative Director
Marisol Thomer, Outreach Director
Fabiola Carrion, Broadband & Green Jobs Policy Specialist
Tim Judson, Workers' Rights Policy Specialist
Enzo Pastore, Health Care Policy Specialist
Suman Raghunathan, Immigrant Rights Policy Specialist
Altaf Rahamatulla, Tax & Budget Policy Specialist
Julie Bero, Outreach and Administrative Specialist
Charles Monaco, Pre
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