Tag Archives | Congress

Automatic voter registration bill clears first legislative hurdle on party-line vote

Jeff Knezovich (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Jeff Knezovich (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Via Jeff Mapes at Oregon Live:

A measure that would use driver license data to register hundreds of thousands of additional Oregonians to vote on Wednesday passed the House Rules Committee on a 5-4 party-line vote.

The measure, sought by Secretary of State Kate Brown, was supported by the majority Democrats and opposed by the panel’s Republicans. It was one of the first bills to begin moving through the House in this session.

The measure, House Bill 2177, now moves to the Joint Ways and Means Committee, which will examine the estimated $1.5 million cost of the measure to the state and to county election departments.

The path-breaking measure is aimed at registering a big chunk of the Oregonians who aren’t registered to vote, either because they’ve moved and not updated their registration or because they never registered in the first place.

The proposal, which narrowly failed to pass the 2013 Legislature, is widely seen as helping Democrats in elections since many of their voters — who are often younger and poorer — tend to move more often.

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Four and Counting: States Consider Bills to Turn off Resources to NSA

digitalpimp. (CC BY-ND 2.0)

digitalpimp. (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Michael Boldin writes at Tenth Amendment Center:

State efforts to stop warrantless NSA spying are off to a fast start in the 2015 legislative session.

Just two weeks into this year’s legislative season, and with many legislatures not even in session yet, legislators in four states have already introduced bills to ban material support or resources to any federal agency engaged in warrantless spying.

These bills not only support efforts to turn off NSA’s water in Utah, but would also have practical effects on federal surveillance programs if passed.

Legislators in South Carolina, Missouri, Alaska and Indiana have all filed versions of the Fourth Amendment Protection Act, and representatives in seven other states have committed to introduce similar bills this year. Sources close to OffNow suggest even more bills will get introduced before the legislative season ends in spring.

“To have four bills already filed, and commitments from seven more legislators – on top of having a bill in Utah set to move forward that would set the stage to turn of the water at the Bluffdale data center – this is really beyond our expectations this early in the session,” OffNow executive director Mike Maharrey said.

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The new Congress is 80 percent white, 80 percent male and 92 percent Christian

Screen shot 2015-01-08 at 4.17.37 PM

Via Washington Post

Trying to predict the gender and race of a member of Congress is like trying to predict who would win a basketball game between the 1996 Chicago Bulls and the 2015 New York Knicks. Which is to say: It is like trying to predict who would win in an arithmetic competition between you and a talking horse. Which is to say: It is like trying to guess how many jellybeans are in a glass jar that contains two jellybeans. Which is to say: It is easy.

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Americans with no religious affiliation most underrepresented in Congress

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Via Pew Research:

When the new, 114th Congress is sworn in on Jan. 6, 2015, Republicans will control both chambers of the legislative body for the first time since the 109th Congress (2005-2006). Yet, despite the sea change in party control, there is relatively little change in the overall religious makeup of Congress, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center. More than nine-in-ten members of the House and Senate (92%) are Christian, and about 57% are Protestant, roughly the same as in the 113th Congress (90% and 56%, respectively).1About three-in-ten members (31%) are Catholic, the same as in the previous Congress.

Protestants and Catholics continue to make up a greater percentage of the members of Congress than of all U.S. adults. Pew Research surveys find that, as of 2013, 49% of American adults are Protestant, and 22% are Catholic.

As was the case in the 113th Congress, the biggest difference between Congress and the general public is in the share of those who say they are religiously unaffiliated.

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Bill Aimed At Shutting Off NSA’s Water Starts Moving Forward Again

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Serge (CC BY-ND 2.0)

via Tech Dirt:

The attempt to nerf the NSA’s new data center in Utah continues. As we covered here at the beginning of this year, legislators and activists began pushing a bill that would cut off the NSA’s water supply if it continued to gather data on American citizens. It’s an interesting move, one that leverages the states’ abilities to combat overreaching federal laws, but one that has gone nowhere so far. The bill was discussed and then tabled indefinitely, supposedly for “further study.”

Apparently, some sort of studying has gone on during the intervening months, because it appears the bill is moving forward again.

On Wednesday, the Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee discussed the bill that “prohibits cooperation between a federal agency that collects electronic data and any political subdivisions of the state.”

The Salt Lake Tribune has more details.

Committee members expressed some concerns with the bill but no outright opposition.

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Republican Engineers Call Ted Cruz Out For Ignorance

Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

via Tech Dirt:

Last week, we mentioned Senator Ted Cruz’s nutty tweet comparing net neutrality to “Obamacare.” It was widely mocked — even by many Republicans — as it showed Cruz’s ignorance of the subject at hand. In fact, one report detailed a number of comments on Ted Cruz’s Facebook page from Republican/conservative engineers disagreeing with Cruz and pointing out that he’s uninformed about net neutrality.

There’s a lot more like that, but it highlights what we’ve seen before — that while Congress likes to pretend that Republicans are against net neutrality while Democrats are for it, the reality is that net neutrality is a non-partisan issue with voters of both parties overwhelmingly supporting net neutrality.

Rather than recognize this fact, Cruz has decided to double down on it with a rambling and misguided opinion piece in the Washington Post that repeats the “Obamacare for the internet” line, and lumps in a variety of other tech issues in a confusing (and often self-contradictory) jumble.

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Congress Wants To Push Dangerous Cybersecurity Bill After The Election, Says US Economy Depends On It

Free Press (CC by-nc-sa 2.0)

Free Press (CC by-nc-sa 2.0)

via Tech Dirt:

Reports are coming out that Congress is looking to push forward with bad cybersecurity legislation after the election, but before the new Congress takes over in January. We’ve discussed the bill in question, CISA, before. The main idea behind it is to immunize companies from liability if they share certain information with the government. Supporters of the bill note that the information sharing is entirely voluntary, but by taking away the liability it also makes it a lot more likely that companies will choose to give information to the government, and it’s not yet clear why the government really needs that information. But the FUD levels are high, with Senator Saxby Chambliss actually suggesting the entire economy is at stake here:

“If we wait another year, we are really risking the economy of the United States.”

Oh, come on. People have been saying this for years — along with the whole “cyber pearl harbor” claims — but have failed to present any explanation or details of how (1) there’s a real risk to the economy or (2) how current laws block necessary solutions.

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Is Congress Really Being Proactive in Regards to Ferguson?

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Fingers crossed that this is implemented.

Senator Claire McCaskill is calling for body cams for all police departments that receive federal funding.

via Policy.Mic:

The news: After weeks of clashes between protesters and heavily armed riot police in Ferguson, Mo., following the police killing of unarmed black teenager Mike Brown, one senator has a simple solution to help prevent future law enforcement excesses: mandatory body cameras for all uniformed officers whose departments receive federal funding.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) told the Springfield News-Leader that such a program requirement would constitute a “great legacy” stemming from Brown’s death. She condemned the heavy-handed police crackdown on protesters, particularly officers who threatened reporters, and said that the body cams would protect police officers following legal guidelines for use of force, while reassuring community members that their rights would be respected.

Currently, video evidence usually only covers the tail end of a police incident, McCaskill told the News-Leader: “It gives the impression the police officer has overreacted when they haven’t.

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Captain America on Immigration

I think this is a perfect summation of America’s dysfunctional immigration system.

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Taken from Captain Vol 7 14 (credit to Imgur user Snowchill).

via Policy.Mic:

Why Cap’s words matter now: Congress will leave soon for its August recess, potentially leaving the crisis on the border with Mexico completely unresolved. With just hours left until the legislative branch leaves town until Sept. 7, the president’s requested $3.7 billion in emergency funding to deal with the crisis of unaccompanied child refugees fleeing to the U.S. from Central America has not been assigned. Obama’s legislation is quite likely dead in the water.

A competing House GOP-sponsored bill which funds spending through September may have a rocky road in the Senate. The Republican version has provisions designed to appeal to the anti-immigration crowd, like eliminating hearings for child migrants in order to speed their deportation. While Democrats consider those provisions a poison pill, it is still possible that most conservative opponents of immigration reform will decide the bill doesn’t go far enough.

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