The WonkLine: March 15, 2011

Welcome to The WonkLine, a daily 9:30 a.m. roundup of the latest public policy news. This is what we’re reading. Tell us what you found in the comments section below. You can also follow The Wonk Room on Twitter.


National Security

Japan’s nuclear crisis verged toward catastrophe on Tuesday after an explosion damaged the vessel containing the nuclear core at one reactor and a fire at another spewed large amounts of radioactive material into the air.”

“Libya’s revolutionary leadership is pressing western powers to assassinate Muammar Gaddafi and launch military strikes against his forces.”

Japan’s “National Police Agency said Tuesday afternoon that 2,722 people have died, and many thousands were still missing. Bodies continued to wash ashore at various spots along the coast after having been pulled out to sea by the tsunami’s retreat.”

Climate Change

Many of the United States’s 104 nuclear facilities are located near areas of seismic activity.

Nearly one out of five — 23 – of the operating reactors in the U.S. have the same design as the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

St. Paul is in a state of emergency, preparing for possibly record flooding. National Weather Service forecasts “predict an 80 percent chance of flooding at the 2001 crest of 23.76 feet and a 48 percent chance the river will exceed its all time record high in St. Paul of 26.4 feet set in 1965.”


A new Census analysis shows that the Latino population grew more dramatically than expected in states with smaller and newer immigrant populations.

An effort to require many private businesses to use the E-Verify electronic employment verification system won a crucial vote in the Georgia Senate yesterday after a similar measure passed the House.

A Kansas House committee voted against a measure similar to Arizona’s immigration law, SB-1070.


No one could have predicted that the NRA would respond to President Obama’s attempt to extend the hand of reasonableness and compromise by trying to bite that hand off.

Amazon.com is exploiting a Supreme Court-created loophole to evade state sales taxes.

The nation’s busiest federal appeals court is only able to function because of several judges in their 80s who are carrying substantial caseloads years after they partially retired.

LGBT Equality

A bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act will be introduced in the House and Senate tomorrow. The legislation already has 105 cosponsors in the House.

Michigan attorney general Bill Schuette “has filed a court brief in support of a former Eastern Michigan University student who claims her religious beliefs were violated when the university dismissed her from its counseling program for refusing to counsel a gay client.”

A California lawmaker has introduced “Seth’s Law” in memory of Seth Walsh, a gay thirteen-year-old who killed himself last year. The bill would require school districts “to create anti-harassment policies and programs that include bullying based on perceived or actual sexual orientation.”

Health Care

“The Transportation Security Administration said [today that] it will start publishing radiation test results from airport passenger and luggage screening equipment in a bid to allay lingering fears about potential health risks.”

England announced that “cigarette packs piled into prominent displays behind store counters and supermarket checkouts in England” will be banned, “a move that will keep cigarettes hidden away and make it just a tad more difficult for smokers to find their fix.”

“The Obama administration told the Supreme Court on Monday night [that] it should stay away from a high-profile challenge to the 2010 health care law until after a lower court has had a chance to review the case.”


Congressional leaders “almost unanimously dismissed a fall deadline announced Monday by President Barack Obama for passing a major education reform bill.”

Head Start supporters “are feeling under siege in the federal budget battle, fearing that the kind of deep cuts they’ve seen proposed in Congress would likely have ripple effects hurting state pre-K and after-school programs.”

The Maryland state senate yesterday “signed off on legislation that would make undocumented immigrants eligible for in-state tuition benefits at the state’s public colleges.”


The natural disaster in Japan “has disrupted production of automobiles, computer chips and other goods and threatens the world’s third-largest economy at a time when it was already vulnerable.”

Republicans plan to introduce a series of measures tomorrow that, if approved, would roll back portions of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

“Senate Republicans have vowed to block any nominee for Commerce secretary or other trade-related nominations until President Obama sends trade pacts with Colombia and Panama to Congress for approval,” The Hill reports.