Monday, March 28, 2011

The Imperial President - James Lankford

Oklahoma Representative James Lankford is quoted in the congressional record for the House of Representatives - March 01, 2011 "I rise to challenge this body, and I hope that my message is well received. This Nation was founded on the rules of the Constitution, not the opinions of Republicans and Democrats. Our decisions are judged in the light of the traditions of the past and the precedent that it sets for the future and the future generation.
   Mr. Speaker, according to our Constitution, a President cannot pick and choose which parts of the law he prefers. The executive branch does not write the law nor choose the law. It enforces the law. The basic function of every President is to enforce the law. Every executive branch agency has its foundation in a short and clear statement from the Constitution stating this: He--that means the President--shall take care that the law be faithfully executed.
   A President can petition for laws to be changed. He can complain about a law. He can encourage passage of new law. But he cannot just ignore the law or write new law. Only the courts can throw out a law, and only Congress can write a law. The President and the Department of Justice cannot unilaterally decide not to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act.
   For decades, the Congress has been donating their constitutional powers to the executive branch by giving increased rulemaking authority to the different agencies. Our agencies now write rules that look more like legislation than regulation. We have allowed people to serve in ``Cabinet lite'' level positions without Senate approval. We have exponentially increased the budget for White House staff. And now the President wants to set a new precedent that he alone can determine which laws he likes and he does not like. With this action, the President has invented a retroactive veto on all previous Presidents and all previous congressional acts.
   It is ultimately ironic that the executive branch states that several lower courts have rejected the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, so they are accepting the lower court rulings over a higher court. In the past year, the health care law was ruled unconstitutional, but the Federal Government is pressing forward. The administration was instructed by the courts to lift the drilling moratorium in the gulf, but they stalled.
It is apparent that this administration is bent on placing its political preferences ahead of the courts, ahead of the legislative branch, and the majority of the American people.
   Both parties need to understand the precedent that's being set by the President's choosing to not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act. My Democrat friends should imagine for a moment, what if when a Republican President takes the oath and he instructs HHS and all other agencies not to enforce ObamaCare, though it's the law of the land, because some lower court rejected it? They would be outraged, rightfully so, because currently it is the law of the land. A President cannot just unilaterally throw it aside.
   Before this conversation is spun as a partisan issue, let me remind everyone, though, that the Defense of Marriage Act passed the House and the Senate by a wide bipartisan majority and was signed into law by a Democrat President. This is not only a slap in the face to our constitutional system; it is a slap to Republicans and Democrats who expressed the will of their districts and States on an issue that has been settled in law.
   The people spoke through Congress, and one person, even a President, cannot undermine the will of the people. At least not in the America that I grew up in.
   I do not think we will fully understand the implications of this action if we allow it to stand. We must not act partisan now and regret it later. This is not the way to deal with the gay marriage debate, for the President to just sweep it aside and say, ``I will not enforce the law.''
   Many in this Chamber are well aware of my traditional view of marriage and my Biblical world view. I am unashamed of my personal faith in Jesus Christ. I believe that words have meaning, though, and that the meaning of marriage is the union of a man and a woman. The Defense of Marriage Act codified that definition in law, representing the belief of a majority of Americans.
   This issue is well beyond faith, though, or a social issue or even a political issue. Marriage is now not only the center of a national debate, it's now the center of a constitutional debate.
   Weeks ago some members of the press suggested that Republicans would ignore the budget and focus on social issues. I find it ironic now that the President has submitted a budget that will raise the national debt to $26 trillion, by his own numbers, and he has decided to change the national debate from fiscal issues to social issues and gay marriage.
   As a Congress, we cannot demand of the executive branch, which is a coequal branch of government. But I believe we must require the executive branch to fulfill its oath of office and constitutional requirement to faithfully execute the laws of the United States."

Affordable Gas Price Act

The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. is going to lend billions of dollars to Brazil's state-owned oil company, Petrobras, to finance exploration of the huge offshore discovery in Brazil's Tupi oil field in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro. Brazil's planning minister confirmed that White House National Security Adviser James Jones met this month with Brazilian officials to talk about the loan.
The U.S. Export-Import Bank tells us it has issued a "preliminary commitment" letter to Petrobras in the amount of $2 billion and has discussed with Brazil the possibility of increasing that amount. Ex-Im Bank says it has not decided whether the money will come in the form of a direct loan or loan guarantees. Either way, this corporate foreign aid may strike some readers as odd, given that the U.S. Treasury seems desperate for cash and Petrobras is one of the largest corporations in the Americas.
In another story they reported that The Obama administration plans to propose allowing offshore oil and natural-gas exploration and development in a large swath of the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
In addition, the administration plans to announce new steps to determine how much oil and natural gas is buried off the coasts of Middle and Southern Atlantic states, where oil-reserve estimates are decades out of date.
At the same time, Mr. Obama's plan wouldn't allow new oil and gas development off the coasts of Northern Atlantic states or California, whose political leaders have long opposed offshore drilling. The administration will call off a plan drafted by the administration of former President George W. Bush that would have given oil companies access to Alaska's Bristol Bay.
Senator Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor that “Three sources in Alaska, currently shut down, could replace crude oil imports from the Persian Gulf for 65 years. Yet all three are off limits due to decisions made by or continued by this administration.”
In the Outer Continental Shelf Oil & Gas Assessment 2006 from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, estimates that the quantity of undiscovered technically recoverable resources ranges from 66.6 to 115.3 billion barrels of oil and 326.4 to 565.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The mean or average estimate is 85.9 billion barrels of oil and 419.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. These volumes of UTRR for the OCS represent about 60 percent of the total oil and 40 percent of the total natural gas estimated to be contained in undiscovered fields in the United States.
Ron Paul introduced the Affordable Gas Price Act.” This legislation reduces gas prices by reforming government policies that artificially inflate the price of gas. Because of a number of factors, including the instability in the Middle East, the average price of gas has risen approximately 13% since the beginning of the year. In some areas, the price of gas is approaching $4.00 per gallon. There is thus a real possibility that the American people will soon be once again hard hit by skyrocketing gas prices.
“High gas prices threaten our fragile economy and diminish the quality of life for all Americans. One industry that is particularly hard hit is the trucking industry. The effects of high gas prices on the trucking industry will be reflected in increased costs for numerous consumer goods, thus further harming American consumers. “
He added “the legislation repeals the federal moratorium on offshore drilling and allows oil exploration in the ANWR reserve in Alaska. My bill also ensures that the National Environmental Policy Act's environmental impact statement requirement will no longer be used as a tool to force refiners to waste valuable time and capital on nuisance litigation. The Affordable Gas Price Act also provides tax incentives to encourage investment in new refineries.”
The Affordable Gas Price Act is justified by the 16th amendment, which gives Congress the power to lay and collect taxes, the Commerce Clause of Article 1 Section 8, which gives Congress the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and Article 1, Section 1 of the Constitution which vests all legislative power in the Congress. This clearly gives Congress authority to pass legislation changing laws and polices relating to offshore drilling and the use of environmental impact statements in litigation.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Federal Senate- Oklahoman Bills Introduced

 Senator Tom Coburn has introduced the Stop the Overprinting Act of 2011.  It basically states that no printing shall be permitted and The Public Printer shall make bills and resolutions available for the use of offices of Members of Congress only in an electronic format which is accessible through the Internet. It was read twice and referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration. I could find no articles on cost savings.
The Senator also sponsored the Orphan Earmarks Act which rescinds any earmark of funds provided for any federal agency with more than 90% of the appropriated amount remaining available for obligation at the end of the 9th fiscal year after it was first made available. The agency head is authorized to delay any such rescission if an additional obligation of the earmark is likely to occur during the following 12-month period.
Each agency head is also required to identify and report every project that is an earmark with an unobligated balance at the end of each fiscal year to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), who shall report a listing and accounting for such earmarks to Congress and to the public via the OMB website.
Senator Coburn’s other items can be found here.
Senator James Inhofe has introduced Honest Expenditure Limitation Program Act of 2011 or HELP Act which amends the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 to make it out of order in the House of Representatives or the Senate to consider any bill, joint resolution, amendment, or conference report that includes any provision that would exceed specified non-security discretionary spending limits and limits non-security discretionary spending limits for FY2011-FY2016 to the levels provided in FY2008 and for FY2017-FY2021 to such amount adjusted annually for inflation.
This bill requires the President to issue a sequestration order, effective on issuance, if the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in its Final Discretionary Sequestration Report estimates that any sequestration is required.
Subjects to permanent cancellation any budgetary resources sequestered from any account, except those in special fund accounts or offsetting collections sequestered in appropriation accounts and apply the same percentage sequestration to all programs, projects, and activities within a budget account.
It also requires Discretionary Sequestration Preview Reports by OMB to the President and Congress and, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to Congress requiring the OMB report to explain the difference between OMB and CBO estimates for each item.

The Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 sponsored by Mr. Inhofe states that the administrator may not, under this Act, enact any regulation concerning, take action relating to, or take into consideration the emission of a greenhouse gas to address climate change. The definition of the term `air pollutant' does not include a greenhouse gas.
Additionally, he following rules and actions (including any supplement or revision to such rules and actions) are repealed and shall have no legal effect:
(A) `Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases', published at 74 Fed. Reg. 56260 (October 30, 2009).
(B) `Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act' published at 74 Fed. Reg. 66496 (Dec. 15, 2009).
(C) `Reconsideration of the Interpretation of Regulations That Determine Pollutants Covered by Clean Air Act Permitting Programs' published at 75 Fed. Reg. 17004 (April 2, 2010) and the memorandum from Stephen L. Johnson, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, to EPA Regional Administrators, concerning `EPA's Interpretation of Regulations that Determine Pollutants Covered by Federal Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Permit Program' (Dec. 18, 2008).
(D) `Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Title V Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule', published at 75 Fed. Reg. 31514 (June 3, 2010).
(E) `Action To Ensure Authority To Issue Permits Under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program to Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Finding of Substantial Inadequacy and SIP Call', published at 75 Fed. Reg. 77698 (December 13, 2010).
(F) `Action To Ensure Authority To Issue Permits Under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program to Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Finding of Failure to Submit State Implementation Plan Revisions Required for Greenhouse Gases', published at 75 Fed. Reg. 81874 (December 29, 2010).
(G) `Action To Ensure Authority To Issue Permits Under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program to Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Federal Implementation Plan', published at 75 Fed. Reg. 82246 (December 30, 2010).
(H) `Action To Ensure Authority To Implement Title V Permitting Programs Under the Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule', published at 75 Fed. Reg. 82254 (December 30, 2010).
(I) `Determinations Concerning Need for Error Correction, Partial Approval and Partial Disapproval, and Federal Implementation Plan Regarding Texas Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program', published at 75 Fed. Reg. 82430 (December 30, 2010).
(J) `Limitation of Approval of Prevention of Significant Deterioration Provisions Concerning Greenhouse Gas Emitting-Sources in State Implementation Plans; Final Rule', published at 75 Fed. Reg. 82536 (December 30, 2010).
(K) `Determinations Concerning Need for Error Correction, Partial Approval and Partial Disapproval, and Federal Implementation Plan Regarding Texas Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program; Proposed Rule', published at 75 Fed. Reg. 82365 (December 30, 2010).
(L) Except for action listed in paragraph (2), any other Federal action under this Act occurring before the date of enactment of this section that applies a stationary source permitting requirement or an emissions standard for a greenhouse gas to address climate change.
In short this bill will amend the Clean Air Act to prohibit the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from promulgating any regulation concerning, taking action relating to, or taking into consideration the emission of a greenhouse gas to address climate change, and for other purposes.
Mr. Inhofe introduced English Language Unity Act of 2011 which amends USC Title 4 to read Section 161 states the official language of the United States is English. Section 162- Representatives of the Federal Government shall have an affirmative obligation to preserve and enhance the role of English as the official language of the Federal Government. Such obligation shall include encouraging greater opportunities for individuals to learn the English language. Section 163- Official functions of Government to be conducted in English. Section 164 states that all testing and ceremonies for naturalization will be in English.
Senator Inhofe’s Comprehensive Assessment of Regulations on the Economy Act of 2011 will establish a committee to perform an assessment of the cumulative energy and economic impacts of the Federal regulatory mandates in accordance with this subsection, including direct, indirect, quantifiable, and qualitative effects on employment, economic development, the electric power sector, State and local governments, small business and agriculture, as a partial list. It mandates the committee to identify potential adverse cumulative impacts of the Federal regulatory mandates that have unique or significant repercussions for each particular region of the United States and to investigate opportunities and strategies for mitigating the adverse impacts and repercussions identified.
Senate Resolution 23 makes consideration of a bill, joint resolution, conference report, or amendment that provides an earmark out of order. It permits waiver or suspension of such prohibition, or successful appeals from rulings of the Chair, only by an affirmative vote of three-fourths of the Senate.

End Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act of 2011

End Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act of 2011- Amends the Internal Revenue Code to require seven-year amortization of the geological and geophysical expenditures of covered large oil companies. Defines "covered large oil company" as a taxpayer which is a major integrated oil company or which has gross receipts in excess of $50 million in a taxable year.
It denies certain tax benefits to any taxpayer that is not a small, independent oil and gas company, including: (1) the tax credits for producing oil and gas from marginal wells and for enhanced oil recovery, (2) expensing of intangible drilling and development costs in the case of gas wells and geothermal wells, (3) percentage depletion, (4) the tax deduction for qualified tertiary injectant expenses, (5) the exemption from limitations on passive activity losses, and (6) the tax deduction for income attributable to domestic production activities.
This bill also prohibits the use of the last-in, first-out (LIFO) accounting method by major integrated oil companies.
Finally it limits or denies the foreign tax credit and tax deferrals for amounts paid or accrued by a dual capacity taxpayer to a foreign country or U.S. possession for any period with respect to combined foreign oil and gas income. Defines "dual capacity taxpayer" as a person who is subject to a levy of a foreign country or U.S. possession and receives (or will receive) directly or indirectly a specific economic benefit from such county or possession.
In his statement introducing the bill, Senator Earl Blumenaur of Oregon said "Right now, Americans are subsidizing some of the largest and most profitable oil companies in the world with their tax dollars. This bill, the `End Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act,' would end 10 of the most egregious tax loopholes enjoyed by the oil industry--tax loopholes that have helped BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell make a combined profit of nearly $1 trillion over the past decade." He also said it will save $40 billion over the next 5 years and that we could redirect the subsidies in the tax code to level the playing field for emerging technologies like wind and solar power.

Require Delinquent Taxes be Paid by Federal Employees

On February 17, 2011, Tom Coburn introduced a bill (s.376) "that will provide assurance to taxpayers that Federal employees are on equal footing with the American people and are held accountable to the same rules they enforce," Mr. Coburn said.
In his statement Senator Coburn remarked “In 2009, the Internal Revenue Service, IRS, found nearly 100,000 civilian Federal employees were delinquent on their Federal income taxes, owing over $1 billion in unpaid Federal income taxes. When considering retirees and military, more than 282,000 Federal employees owed $3.3 billion in taxes.
“This legislation will save taxpayers at least $1 billion by requiring the Internal Revenue Service to collect unpaid Federal income taxes from civilian Federal employees.
“Federal employees have a clear obligation to pay their Federal income taxes. The very nature of Federal employment and the concept inherent to ``public service'' demands those being paid by taxpayers to also pay their fair share of taxes. Federal workers should not be exempt from the laws they enforce. In fact, they should lead by example. Failure to do so is an affront to taxpayers and to the rule of law.
“Unfortunately, Congress has allowed this abuse of taxpayer dollars to occur throughout the Federal Government and failed to implement the proper safeguards to hold culprits accountable. Considering our national debt recently surpassed $14 trillion, it is critical Congress quickly pass this legislation. Surely this milestone is a wake-up call for Congress to find ways to get control of the Federal budget and help get our country back on the right track towards fiscal responsibility.
“The bill I recently introduced requires all Federal employees to be current on their Federal income taxes or be fired from their jobs. This is a commonsense bill that most Americans would believe is reasonable, necessary, and likely surprised that it is not already the standard throughout the Federal Government.
“It is not the intention of this legislation to single out the majority of Federal employees who work hard and pay their taxes. Instead, the bill would carefully reach only those who have willfully neglected to pay their income taxes and would direct the IRS to only collect money already owed under the Federal Tax Code.
“This legislation excludes Federal employees who make oversights in their personal taxes but willfully agree to pay them or are challenging the delinquency in court or through the IRS.
“Specifically, it excludes Federal employees from termination if (1) the individual is currently paying the taxes, interest, and penalties owed to IRS under an installment plan; (2) the individual and the IRS have worked out a compromise on the amount of taxes, interest and penalties owed, and the compromise amount agreed upon is being repaid to IRS; (3) the individual has not exhausted his or her right to due process under the law; or (4) the individual filed a joint return and successfully contends he or she should not be fully liable for the taxes, interest, and/or penalties owed because of something the other party to the return did or did not do.
I recently introduced this bipartisan legislation, because Congress has failed to responsibly manage taxpayer dollars and serve in the best interests of the American people. This legislation will provide a solution to level the playing field between Federal employees and the American people when it comes to paying Federal income taxes.
It should be a priority of this Congress to pass this solution as a way to provide equal treatment under the law and to seek out commonsense opportunities that will reduce our national debt. Now is the time for Congress to get a grip on the federal budget and find responsible ways to save in order to preserve the heritage of service and sacrifice that made our country great."
I wonder if elected officials will be included in such a bill. A San Francisco Examiner article from March 21 2011 states that Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., owes $287,273 in personal property taxes on her private airplane. Interestingly, she is a co-sponsor of this legislation that would fire federal employees who are "seriously delinquent" in paying federal taxes.
The West Virginia News reports that US Senator Manchin Failed To Pay WV Real Estate Taxes. Reportedly, as of this date, the Manchins still owe a total of $1,069.00 for the first half of 2010, and the same amount for the second. Their account also shows listed as “delinquent” in the first and second half tax year deadlines, with a grand total due of $2, 150.54 (which includes $13.36 in late fees) if paid by this coming Monday, February 28, 2011.
The DCCC reported that Representative Ann Marie Buerkle was late on thousands of dollars of taxes but still was able to loan her own campaign $28,000.  Ann Marie Buerkle was loaning her own campaign $28,000 despite owing the government for unpaid taxes in the range of $46,000 to $69,000.
And remember that Timothy Geithner had failed to pay nearly $40,000 in taxes on income received from the International Monetary Fund in 2001 and in three subsequent years.
This bill needs to include cabinet posts and elected officials as well.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

US House-Oklahoma Sponsored Bills

Representative Dan Boren (OK) introduced HR 474 , The Genuine American Flag Act this year. This bill states that it will be illegal to import American flags made in a foreign country for sale in the US regardless of size. This bill has been referred to the house Committee on Ways and Means since January 26 2011.
 He has also introduced HR 475. Fountainhead Property Land Transfer Act, requiring the transfer of administrative jurisdiction over specified federal property in McIntosh County, Oklahoma, within the boundary of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, from the Secretary of the Army to the Secretary of the Interior, who shall take such land into trust for the benefit of the Tribe.
Mr. Boren introduced similar legislation, HALE Scouts Act (HR 473) stating that it is in the public interest to provide for the sale of certain federally owned land in the Ouachita National Forest in Oklahoma to the Indian Nations Council, Inc., of the Boy Scouts of America, for market value consideration. Subject to valid existing rights, the Secretary of Agriculture shall convey, by quitclaim deed, to the Indian Nations Council, Inc., of the Boy Scouts of America (in this section referred to as the `Council') all right, title, and interest of the United States in and to certain National Forest System land in the Ouachita National Forest in the State of Oklahoma consisting of approximately 140 acres, depending on the final measurement of the road set back and the actual size of the affected sections, as more fully described in subsection (c). The conveyance may not include any land located within the Indian Nations National Scenic and Wildlife Area designated by section 10 of the Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation and Wilderness Area Act (16 U.S.C. 460vv-8). The National Forest System land to be conveyed under subsection (b) is depicted on the map entitled `Boy Scout Land Request--Ouachita NF'. The map shall be on file and available for public inspection in the Forest Service Regional Office in Atlanta, Georgia.
Tom Cole has introduced 10th Amendment Regulatory Reform Act - authorizing a designated state official to file with the head of a federal agency proposing a rule, during the period when the proposed rule is required to be open for public comment, a legal brief challenging the constitutionality of the rule under the Tenth Amendment.
Directs the agency head: (1) to notify the designated official of each state within 15 days after such a brief is filed; (2) to post prominently on the agency's primary Web page a link to the brief within 10 days after such brief is filed; and (3) within 15 days after posting such link, to certify in writing that such rulemaking does not violate the Tenth Amendment and post the certification prominently on the front page of the agency's website, unless the agency determines it will not put the proposed rule into effect.
This act also authorizes a state official who decides to challenge a federal rule on the grounds that it violates the Tenth Amendment to elect to file a legal action in U.S. district court for the district in which the official's place of business is located. The relevant U.S. Court of Appeals is directed, at the request of a designated state official, to grant expedited review of a decision by a district court in such a case.
Indian Healthcare Improvement Act of 2011 (HR 536)-prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that covers abortion, except when a women's life would otherwise be endangered or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
Mr. Cole also had amendment 78 added to HR 1. AS he stated on record "this is a simple amendment, and it's on an issue we voted on as recently as 3 weeks ago. Very simply put, my amendment prohibits the use of funds under this act to administer or carry out any of the activities for the Presidential Election Campaign Fund or to transfer public dollars to political conventions under chapter 96 of the Internal Revenue Code. Just 3 weeks ago, this House passed H.R. 359, which eliminated taxpayer financing for Presidential election campaigns and political party conventions. This bill passed by a vote of 239-160 under a modified open rule. If signed into law, it will save $617 million over 10 years." It was agreed to by a vote of 247 to 175.
Representative John Sullivan has introduced the Healthcare Truth and Transparency Act of 2011 (HR 451). This act prohibits any person from making any deceptive or misleading statement, or engaging in any deceptive or misleading act that misrepresents whether the person holds a state health care license, education, training, degree, license, or clinical expertise.
It will also require any person who is advertising health care services to disclose the applicable license under which they are authorized to provide those services.
It states that violation of this Act to be an unfair or deceptive act or practice under the Federal Trade Commission Act.
The Federal Trade Commission will be required to study and report to Congress on health care professionals' misrepresentations under this Act.
Mr. Sullivan also offered an amendment to HR 1 to delay the implementation of the EPA's E15 waivers for the remainder of the fiscal year, which would allow Congress time to address safety concerns related to the 50% higher blend of ethanol gasoline before the EPA puts it in our general fuel supply.
He stated "Despite alarming consumer, environmental and economic concerns, the Environmental Protection Agency has approved a 50 percent increase in the amount of corn-based ethanol allowed in gasoline used by cars and light trucks manufactured in the 2001 model year and newer.
This is simply another attempt by the EPA to engineer ethanol mandates and drive ethanol subsidies forward. And, yes, this is a mandate.
The EPA has mandated that we use 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels, like ethanol, annually in our motor engines by 2022 and through incremental steps and backhanded attempts just like this, the EPA is mandating.
The EPA's move from E10 to E15 fuel over the next several months is in effect a backhanded 50 percent increase in the corn ethanol mandate putting consumers, engine makers and gasoline retailers at risk. Gasoline station owners are terrified of how they will comply with this E15 mandate because not all of the existing infrastructure is certified for the fuel. Under the EPA waiver, they will have no liability protections.
Quik Trip, a major gasoline retailer across the Midwest, which is headquartered in my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, offers an unconditional guarantee on every drop of gasoline they sell. Because of the lack of liability protection, they will be left on the hook if someone puts the wrong blend of gas in the wrong kind of car. That will open up a litigation nightmare.
Why do we want to further mandate a fuel consumers don't want and retailers are afraid to sell? This is a major consumer safety issue that could adversely impact up to 60 percent of cars on the road today.
It is also important to point out the environmental impacts of this as well. The higher a fuel blend like E15, the higher the toxic air pollutant emissions. Since ethanol contains just 66 percent of the energy that gasoline does, E15 will lead to an actual drop in gasoline mileage. The EPA has even said you get 5 percent less fuel economy with E15 than clear gasoline.
The EPA has completely ignored calls from lawmakers, industry, environmental and consumer groups to address important safety issues raised by the 50 percent increase in the ethanol mandate waivers. Putting the brakes on E15 is the right thing to do for the people that we represent."
This amendment was agreed to by recorded vote of 285 to 136.
Rookie James Lankford introduced Ending Unemployment Payments to Jobless Millionaires Act of 2011 (HR 569) which prohibits federal funds from being used to make payments of unemployment compensation (including such compensation under the Federal-State Extended Compensation Act of 1970 and the emergency unemployment compensation program under the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008) to an individual whose resources in the preceding year were at least $1 million. It also requires an individual's resources to be determined in the same manner as a subsidy eligible individual's resources are determined under the alternative resource standard of the Social Security Act. This bill has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. Senator Coburn also introduced an identical measure S 310.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Oklahoma Senate Defends Second Amendment

Senate BILL NO. 129 allows a person to carry loaded and unloaded shotguns, rifles and pistols, open and not concealed and without a handgun license as authorized by the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act when carried in a holster that is wholly or partially visible or in a scabbard, case or with a sling designed for carrying firearms that is wholly or partially visible and the person is eighteen (18) years of age or older.  Any person who carries a firearm in the manner provided for in this paragraph shall be prohibited from carrying the firearm into any of the places prescribed in subsection A of Section 1277 of this title.
A senate committee has suggested this bill to be passed. This bill passed third reading on March 15 2011 by a 36 to 8 vote.
This bill also allows one to carry the weapon in a holster that is wholly or partially visible or in a scabbard, case or with a sling designed for carrying firearms that is wholly or partially visible to shooting sports events, military exercises, and practice for or a performance for entertainment purposes.
You may also carry unloaded weapons to and from your home, auto and for repairs, among other things. This bill is an enumeration of the second amendment of the Bill of Rights, which states that A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
In 2008 and 2010, the Supreme Court issued two Second Amendment decisions. In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm, unconnected to service in a militia[1][2] and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. Additionally, the Court enumerated several longstanding prohibitions and restrictions on firearms possession that it found were consistent with the Second Amendment.[3] In McDonald v. Chicago (2010), the Court ruled that the Second Amendment limits State and local governments to the same extent that it limits the federal government.[4]

In the new edition of More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws, economist John R. Lott, Jr. writes in the book’s third edition “The hypothesis that more guns connects to less crime has stood up against massive efforts to criticize it.”,  Lott says, adding that “not a single refereed study finds the opposite result.”
The new edition includes data and analysis from 39 states and now covers 29 years (1977-2005). It will make it much more difficult for Lott’s critics and anti-gun groups to continue their attempts to disarm law-abiding Americans. In fact, Lott frequently turns the tables on his critics by demonstrating how their own data actually support the More Guns, Less Crime thesis.
"There are large drops in overall violent crime, murder, rape, and aggravated assault that begin right after the right-to-carry laws have gone into effect,” Lott writes. “In all those crime categories, the crime rates consistently stay much lower than they were before the law.”
From the time states passed right-to-carry concealed handgun laws, the average murder rate dropped from 6.3 per 100,000 to 5.2 per 100,000 nine-to-ten years later—“about a 1.7% drop in the murder rate per year for ten years.”
Overall violent crime rates similarly dropped from 475 crimes per 100,000 people to a range of 415-440 after the second full year that concealed-carry laws were passed. Rapes dropped from 40.2 per 100,000 people to 35.7 per 100,000 nine to 10 years later (a 12% drop).
“Of all the methods studied so far by economists, the carrying of concealed handguns appears to be the most cost-effective method for reducing crime,” Lott noted.
“Great Britain banned handguns in January 1997. But the number of deaths and injuries from gun crime in England and Wales increased an incredible 340% in seven years from 1998 to 2005,” Lott writes, identifying detrimental effects of gun bans in many other countries including India, Jamaica, Germany, Finland, and Greece.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

TSA Sexual Battery Law

HOUSE BILL 1245 is a bill related to child sexual acts and also to the TSA. In part the bill makes it illegal to commit sexual battery on another person. “Sexual battery” shall mean the intentional touching, mauling or feeling of the body or private parts of any person sixteen years of age or older, in a lewd and lascivious manner without the consent of that person, when committed by a state, county, municipal or political subdivision employee or a contractor or an employee of a contractor of the state, a county, a municipality or political subdivision of this state upon a person who is under the legal custody, supervision or authority of a state agency, a county, a municipality or a political subdivision of this state and when committed by a federal employee or a contractor or an employee of a contractor of the federal government upon a person who is under the legal custody, supervision or authority of the United States Transportation Security Administration.
If the federal employee or a contractor or an employee of a contractor of the federal government is involved in screening a passenger prior to boarding any manner of transportation, it shall not constitute a defense to prosecution unless reasonable suspicion exists at the time of the screening that the passenger may pose a danger to the traveling public.
Any person convicted of a violation of this section shall be deemed guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for not more than ten years.
The fact that an undercover operative or law enforcement officer was involved in the detection and investigation of an offense shall not constitute a defense to a prosecution.
Any peace officer as defined by Section 99 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes may offer assistance to a citizen who requests protection from a United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employee or a contractor or an employee of a contractor of the TSA.
Civil actions for acts of sexual battery provided by Paragraph 3 of Subsection B of Section 1123 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes may be filed in the district court of the county where the act occurred.

Expanding the Use of Deadly force

HOUSE BILL NO. 1439 adds a place of business to the use of deadly force in self defense. The bill states if an owner, manager or employee of a business holds a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm to themselves or others, may use defensive force that is likely to cause death or serious injury to the perpetrator in certain circumstances. If the person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or a place of business, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against the will of that person from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or place of business.
This bill states that a person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
 A person who uses force, as permitted pursuant to the provisions of this law is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force.
This does not cover a person who uses defensive force is engaged in an unlawful activity or is using the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or place of business to further an unlawful activity. Additionally it does not cover a person who uses defensive force against the parent, grandparent or legal guardian attempting to remove their children from said places.
This bill expands the scope of section 1289.25 of the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act. Part of this law allows concealed handguns. According the 2010 SDA Report issued by the OSBI there are 27,013 individuals with a license. The average age of the licensee is 50. The report also shows that 74.5% of the SDA licensed are male. This does not supersede businesses rules that do not allow weapons on the premises. To read the entire act click here Oklahoma Self-Defense Act. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Oklahoma Immigration Bill

HOUSE BILL NO. 1446 is the so called Arizona Style immigration law that has passed the Oklahoma house by a vote of 85 to 7. This bill that the immigration status of an alien may be determined by a law enforcement officer who is authorized by the federal government to verify or ascertain the immigration status of an alien or the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the United States Customs and Border Protection pursuant to Section 1373(c) of Title 8 of the United States Code.
It also creates a criminal penalty for intentionally smuggling human beings for profit or commercial purposes.  The penalty is a felony punishable by imprisonment for not less than 1 year, a fine of $1,000 or both fine and imprisonment.  A law enforcement officer may lawfully stop any person who is operating a motor vehicle if the officer has reasonable suspicion to believe the person is in violation of any traffic law of this state. Any vehicles, including aircraft, vehicles, or vessels used in any manner in violation of transporting, smuggling or hiring of illegal aliens will be subject to confiscation. If convicted in trafficking the people, these are human beings, they smuggler may lose their vehicle and pay a small fine as previously mentioned. Many believe this does not go far enough in punishment,
This law makes it a criminal penalty for an occupant of a motor vehicle that is stopped on a street, roadway or highway to attempt to hire or hire and pick up passengers for work at a different location if the motor vehicle blocks or impedes the normal movement of traffic. It also creates a criminal penalty for a person to enter a motor vehicle that is stopped on a street, roadway or highway in order to be hired by an occupant of the motor vehicle to be transported to work at a different location if the motor vehicle blocks or impedes the normal movement of traffic. A penalty is created for a person who is unlawfully present in the United States and who is an unauthorized alien to knowingly apply for work, solicit work in a public place or perform work as an employee or independent contractor in this state.  Punishment for conviction of these offenses is a misdemeanor subject to up to 1 year in the county jail, a fine of $500 or both fine and imprisonment
The law will also make it illegal to aide or abed in the hiding or falsification of documents for individuals in the country unlawfully.  Anyone caught doing so shall face a #1,000 fins and a one year jail sentence.
This law will prohibit a person who is unlawfully present in the United States and who is an unauthorized alien to knowingly apply for work, solicit work in a public place or perform work as an employee or independent contractor in this state. If found guilty of breaking this section of the law, a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of $500.00 or by both such imprisonment and fine will be the result.
This law also gives the ability to verify the immigration states of individuals applying for assistance, schools, or license of this state.
The measure provides that a law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state may not consider race, color or national origin in the enforcement of this section except to the extent permitted by the United States Constitution or Oklahoma Constitution.
This law also amends 21 O.S. 2001, Section 1738 with provisions to confiscate properties and monies obtained in the use of trafficking individuals, pimping prostitutes, vehicles used in robberies and discharge of firearms, personal property such as computers and related items used in crimes. The law also designates the dispersal of funds obtained from sales of such properties.
Upon reading, this is not a law against any ethnic group or any individuals legally in this country. You are sure to hear this law and the others being proposed to stop these crimes as anti-Hispanic and the like, although this is simply not true. That is naturalized citizens and those that followed the law to become citizens. This law is clearly meant to stop those that come into the country illegally and also to punish those that bring them in the country, hide them, employ them and use them for prostitution and other selfish gains of the smugglers.  The punishment does seem a bit light in many areas.
Oklahoma is one of only a few states to see an increase in illegal immigrants over the last three years. A study by Pew Research finds a shift in illegal immigration away from the costs and into the heartland.
The firm estimates there are 75,000 illegal immigrants in Oklahoma, up 32% from 2007. Other state to see major increases were Texas and Louisiana.
Oklahoma is currently tied with Iowa, ranking 29th when it comes to the number of illegal immigrants living in the state
A report from shows the annual cost to Oklahoma for public education of illegal students is said to be $67.1 million. A total cost to Oklahoma tax payers is estimated at $465 million in 2010. Emergency Medicaid is estimated to cost our state $53.4 million a year. TANF and CCDF is another $46.3 million. They also show that total taxes collected from this group to be at $22.6 million. This is a net loss of $443.4 million annually.
The full report, covering the entire US numbers, can be found at the link above.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Oklahoma Child Protection Act

HOUSE BILL 1401 titled The Oklahoma Child Protection Act states that children are increasingly being preyed upon and coerced into illegal sexual relations by adults. The care takers, schools and health care providers are required by Oklahoma law to report suspected incidences of abuse. However, the legislature maintains, many of these go unreported and the perpetrators are not brought to justice.
There are documented cases of individuals other than a parent or guardian aiding, abetting, and assisting minor girls to procure abortions without their parents' or guardians' knowledge, consent, or involvement.  This includes transporting children across state lines to avoid parental involvement requirements in the child's home state. Such actions violate both the sanctity of the familial relationship and Oklahoma's notice and consent law for abortion. However, the mandatory reporter may not use his or her discretion in deciding what cases should or should not be reported to the appropriate law enforcement or designated state agencies.
Any person, other than an adult who has caused the pregnancy or allowed it to happen shall be liable for civil damages if they aid or abed in a person under 14 having an abortion without parental or guardian consent. The court may award damages to the person or persons adversely affected by a violation of subsection A of this section, including compensation for emotional injury without the need for personal presence at the act or event, and the court may further award attorney fees, litigation costs, and punitive damages.
Additionally, a fetal sample will be taken and sent for investigation. This will include DNA testing of the unborn child. This may be used as evidence in later cases. This procedure will allow investigators to possibly find the person who impregnated the child. This would also stop abortion as a means of eliminating evidence in rape and child sexual abuse cases. Failure of the abortionist to comply will constitute unprofessional conduct for the purposes of Section 509.1 of Title 59 of the Oklahoma Statutes and the person will be charged with a misdemeanor on the first count and felonies on subsequent convictions.
The act would relieve medical professionals and other mandatory reporters of suspected sexual crimes against children from any responsibility to personally investigate an allegation or suspicion.  Mandatory reporters must simply report allegations, suspicions, and pertinent facts.  Trained law enforcement or social services personnel will then be responsible for any investigation and for the ultimate disposition of the allegation or case. Failure to report a case will result in a misdemeanor charge.

Report on Children, OKDHS and Legislation Part2

As previously reported, there are a number of children in state custody that are victimized by the people charged with the children’s protection. Another concern raised in the report recently released by the Center for the Support of Families has to do with the placement of the children.  HOUSE BILL 1967 seeks to make changes in the placement procedures.
This bill requires OKDHS to give preference to relatives in the placement of children and report to the courts the effort made to that end.  Siblings shall be placed in the same home given the placement is in the best interest of the children.
The department will begin an immediate search for fit and willing relatives for children in need of temporary housing and notify them of the possibility of the need of a permanent placement as well.  The Department, while assessing the relatives for the possibility of placement, shall be authorized to disclose to the relative, as appropriate, the fact that the child is in custody, the alleged reasons for the custody, and the projected date for the child’s return home or other permanent placement as well as any other confidential information deemed necessary and appropriate to secure a suitable placement.
OKDHS will also have to provide and institute written rules for facilities under contract or operated by the Department. The rules will constitute the right of the child to communicate with family, relatives and former foster families where appropriate.  The child shall not be punished by deprivation of food, physical harm or solitary confinement. A child shall have constant access to writing materials and may send mail without limitation, censorship, or prior reading, and may receive mail without prior reading, except that mail may be opened in the presence of the child, without being read, to inspect for contraband or if authorized by the court for the protection of the child. The child will not be denied access to an attorney as well.
This law does not cover some of the concerns with multiple placements directly; however it is covered in seeking placement with a relative who would be willing to accept the responsibility of care of their relative.
It is believed this law in conjunction with the Oklahoma Child Protection Act and SENATE BILL NO. 674 requiring background checks for foster family care, which includes kinship homes, will allow suitable caretakers for the children in need to be found.
Some argue that the background checks will discourage some from becoming a foster parent or running a child care facility. Many others are sure that the checks will aid in the proper placement of the children who are in need of a stable loving environment. Since these children come from unstable and often abusive and neglected environments, it is important to quickly establish the permanency of a healthy home. The checks are intended to avoid placement in homes with people that have prior abuse and neglect charges.
It is important to note that the bill also requires the same checks for part-day programs, school-age programs, or summer day camps.  This reading implies the criminal checks would also be necessary for church camps, for example.  The costs of the investigations will be paid by the individual seeking to operate a facility, camp or foster home.
The bill will make it unlawful for anyone who required to register pursuant to the Sex Offenders Registration Act to work with or provide services to children or to reside in a child care facility and for any employer who offers or provides services to children to knowingly and willfully employ or contract with, or allow continued employment of or contracting with individuals who are required to register pursuant to the Sex Offenders Registration Act. Individuals required to register pursuant to the Sex Offenders Registration Act who violate any provision of this section, upon conviction, shall be guilty of a felony punishable by incarceration in a correctional facility for a period of not more than five years and a fine of not more than Five Thousand Dollars or both such fine and imprisonment.
A report from the Committee on Public Safety, dated 2 24 11 – DO PASS, As Amended.
The legislation reported here and previous articles are aimed at children safety. It is important to keep in mind that an allegation should never be treated as a conviction in these instances. Just because you are said to have committed and act does not mean that you have.  Stories of families being torn apart by false allegations can be found by a simple web search. We need to protect children but also be careful of inordinate laws of preemptive measure that will do more harm than good.

Report on Children, OKDHS and Legislation Part1

We have all seen the news stories of children in OKDHS custody or care that have been abused. A recent article here at OKGOVWATCH states that a new law, if passed would allow examinations of children suspected of being victims of neglect of abuse without the parent’s knowledge. Would this help in the reduction of such attacks on children?
A report recently released by the Center for the Support of Families shows 21.4 percent of children in the sample were the subject of a maltreatment allegation while in OKDHS custody that was substantiated or where there was sufficient concern to recommend services even though the allegation was not substantiated; 12 percent of children in the sample were the subject of a maltreatment allegation while in OKDHS custody that was substantiated. 78 percent of the alleged perpetrators of maltreatment of children in OKDHS custody were foster parents.

Only 8% of the children in the sample had been in a single, stable placement during their most recent entry into OKDHS custody. 54.8% of the children in the sample experienced four or more placement settings during their most recent entry into OKDHS custody; while 13.9% children experienced 10 or more placement settings. The most frequent reason given by OKDHS for moving children from the first to second placement was because they needed a less restrictive placement, raising concerns about the appropriateness of the children’s initial placements.

Many children moved from one short-term placement to another. Of children with at least two placements, almost three-quarters spent less than one month in the first placement. Of children with at least three placements, almost one-half spent less than one month in the second placement.
The report also showed that the appropriateness of the child’s permanency plan and steps taken to achieve the goal for the child were documented in less than two-thirds (62.3%) of the case plans, despite Federal and OKDHS requirements to include them in the case plans of all children in foster care.

Almost half did not have document services provided to the child despite OKDHS policy requiring this information in the case file.  Additionally, school performance records and health records were not found in 19% and 70% of the files respectively, even though federal regulations mandate this information be included in the child’s file.

In a case filed by Children’s Rights, one of the reasons given for these problems is high caseloads on the workers at DHS. They stated that DHS routinely assigns unreasonably high and dangerous caseloads to its employees that far exceed the national caseload standard of 12 to 15 children per caseworker. The OKDHS responded saying that OKDHS is one of only seven states in the nation that has a Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS).  This federally approved system documents caseloads of all child welfare workers.  The tracking system data verifies that permanency caseload workers generally have between 16 and 20 children per worker.

The most recent OKDHS report for FY 2009 shows that 952 or 5.88% of incidents of confirmed abuse or neglect came from a stepparent. Child care center employees were perpetrators in 331 cases, 238 were adoptive parents and 233 were foster parents. In total, 6% or 972 cases for FY2009 were from foster, adoptive or child care providers. In effort to change this, legislation has been approved by the Oklahoma House to require criminal background checks on adults living in a home where a foster child is to be reunited with a parent. The House voted 97-0 Wednesday for the bill by House Speaker Kris Steele of Shawnee and sent it to the Senate for consideration. Steele says the measure was inspired by the death of Aja Johnson, a 7-year-old girl who investigators believe was killed by her stepfather after he beat her mother to death last year. The stepfather then committed suicide.

The bill requires the Department of Human Services to conduct background checks on all adults before a foster child is reunited with a parent. Steele says background checks ensure that children in vulnerable situations are placed in a safe home.

SENATE BILL 674 requires background checks for foster parent eligibility assessment that shall be similar to the procedures used by the Department of Public Safety for determining suitability of an individual for employment as a highway patrol officer. These checks will be for employees of child care centers, persons 18 and older living in a child care facility and licensing to establish or operate a child care facility.

It is hoped that these changes and other related bills will bring a safer environment for children, especially those in the most vulnerable circumstances.  The Oklahoma Child Protection Act and HOUSE BILL 1967, which relates to placement of children in state custody, will be reviewed in detail in the coming days.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

35 Percent on the Dole

Social welfare benefits, including Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance, make up 35 percent of wages and salaries this year, up from 21 percent in 2000 and 10 percent in 1960, according to TrimTabs Investment Research using Bureau of Economic Analysis data. This is an increase from 21% in 2000.
“The U.S. economy has become alarmingly dependent on government stimulus,” said Madeline Schnapp, director of Macroeconomic Research at TrimTabs, in a note to clients. “Consumption supported by wages and salaries is a much stronger foundation for economic growth than consumption based on social welfare benefits.”
The economist gives the country two stark choices. In order to get welfare back to its pre-recession ratio of 26 percent of pay, “either wages and salaries would have to increase $2.3 trillion, or 35 percent, to $8.8 trillion, or social welfare benefits would have to decline $500 billion, or 23 percent, to $1.7 trillion,” she said.
Social welfare benefits have increased by $514 billion over the last two years, according to TrimTabs figures, in part because of measures implemented to fight the financial crisis
If we continue at this rate over half, 56%, will be dependent on government paychecks in just 10 years. That is using the increase from 2000 to 2010.
They did point out that in Europe the number is around 40%. That is like saying your brother did something worse when you get caught doing something wrong.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Updated Exemptions from the Health Care Law

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, as of January 26 2011, a total of 733 waivers have been granted for 2011.  Key facts about annual limits waivers:
·         There was an increase in the number of applications received at the end of 2010 because December 1 was the final day to apply for a waiver for a plan or policy year that begins on January 1 – as many plans do. Over 500 waivers were granted in December.  While the number of approved waivers increased by more than 200 percent, the total number of enrollees in plans receiving waivers has increased by only 48 percent since the previous posting. 
·         Of all the waivers granted to date:
o    Employment-Based Coverage: The vast majority – 712 plans representing 97 percent of all waivers – were granted to health plans that are employment-related.
§  Self-Insured Employer Plans Applicants: Employer-based health plans received most of the waivers – 359.     
§  Collectively-Bargained Employer-Based Plan Applicants: Most of the other health plans receiving waivers are multi-employer health funds created by a collective bargaining agreement between a union and two or more employers, pursuant to the Taft-Hartley Act.  These “union plans” are employment based group health plans and operate for the sole benefit of workers.  They tend to be larger than other typical group health plans because they cover multiple employers. There are also single-employer union plans that have received a waiver.  In total, 182 collectively-bargained plans have received waivers.
§  Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs):  HRAs are employer-funded group health plans where employees are reimbursed tax-free for qualified medical expenses up to a maximum dollar amount for a coverage period.  In total, HHS has approved 171 applications for waivers for HRAs.
o    Health Insurers: Sixteen waivers were granted to health insurers, which can apply for a waiver for multiple mini-med products sold to employers or individuals. 
o    State Governments: Four waivers have gone to State governments.  States may apply for a waiver of the restricted annual limits on behalf of issuers of state-mandated policies if state law required the policies to be offered by the issuers prior to September 23, 2010. 
·         The number of enrollees in plans with annual limits waivers is 2.1 million, representing only about 1 percent of all Americans who have private health insurance today.
CNS News reported that while the more than 160 unions on the waiver list gave disproportionately to Democrats, the corporations on the list gave to both parties, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. In some cases, these corporations gave more to Republicans.
Assurant Inc.’s PAC spent $162,740 on political contributions in 2010 -- 58 percent of that money went to Democratic candidates. In 2008, the PAC spent $210,000 for campaign contributions, with 51 percent going to Democrats. The Assurant Health CEO Donald Hamm made most of his contributions to America’s Health Insurance Plans PAC. The only candidate Hamm contributed to in the last two election cycles was Wisconsin House GOP candidate John Gard,In 2010, the Cigna PAC spent $206,650 on campaign contributions, with 61 percent going to Republican candidates. In 2008, the Cigna PAC spent $178,500 on political contributions, with 62 percent going to Republican candidates. Cigna CEO Cordani contributed to four candidates in 2010, three of whom were Republicans.
The Aetna PAC spent $458,000 on campaign contributions in 2010, with 68 percent of those contributions going to Republican candidates. In 2008, Aetna spent $241,750 on campaign contributions, with 64 percent going to Republicans.

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini contributed money to the 2010 campaign of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), 2010 Ohio Democratic Senate candidate Lee Irwin Fisher, and Rob Simmons, a Republican who sought the 2010 Republican Senate nomination in Connecticut.
The Blue Cross Blue Shield PAC spent $429,425 in campaign contributions in 2010, and 57 percent of those donations went to Republican candidates. In 2008, the PAC spent $345,250 on political contributions, with 53 percent going to Republican candidates.

The HHS states that some 94% of the waivers have been granted. Who was denied and why? That is the question that many in congress has been asking. So far, we have no answers.