The WonkLine: March 17, 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.



Boats carrying hundreds of Africans fleeing political unrest in their countries are being met in Europe with anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Arizona employers and businesses are urging state lawmakers to not pass additional anti-immigrant legislation because it would damage the economy and tourism industry.

San Jose Police Chief Chris Moore and other prominent law enforcement officials warned that using their limited resources and personnel to go after undocumented immigrants is inefficient, costly and would make their cities more dangerous.

LGBT Equality

“The Ogden City Council [in Utah] has agreed to enact an ordinance that would fine employers or landlords $500 for discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

After passing and then shelving a marriage equality bill, “Maryland senate president Thomas V. Mike Miller said there is no guarantee his chamber” would “pass the measure again next year.”

“The Indiana senate judiciary committee heard testimony [yesterday] morning on a proposal that would amend the state constitution to ban marriage equality and civil unions. A vote is expected next week.”


A bill to end tenure for new teachers and link their job security and pay to student performance on assessment tests passed the Florida House of Representatives yesterday and now heads to Gov. Rick Scott (R) who strongly supports the measure.

“U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says schools not on track to graduate at least half of their basketball players should not be allowed to compete in the NCAA men’s and women’s tournaments.”

“The Idaho House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a measure allowing guns — in plain sight or concealed — on public university and college campuses. The bill, approved by a 41-28 vote, now heads to the Senate.”


Florida conservatives are pushing an insane state constitutional amendment that would allow just 40 percent of the state’s voters to remove a state judge or justice.

Meanwhile, Michigan Democrats are responding to Gov. Rick Snyder’s (R) extra-constitutional assault on unions with an amendment that would protect collective bargaining rights in that state.

One of Idaho’s leading nullificationists is still bitter that the state’s GOP Attorney General correctly told him that his nullification bill is unconstitutional, so he wants the legislature to hire new lawyers who will tell him what he wants to hear.

National Security

“Amid widening alarm in the United States and elsewhere about Japan’s nuclear crisis, military fire trucks began spraying cooling water on spent fuel rods at the country’s stricken nuclear power station on Thursday, but later suspended the operation.”

“Libyan rebels have deployed tanks, artillery and a helicopter to repel an attack by pro-Gaddafi forces on the key town of Ajdabiya” as the Obama administration seeks greater United Nations authority to confront Moammar Gaddafi’s forces while “insisting that Arab governments play a central role in any possible military action.”

Nicholas Kristof opines in the New York Times that it is “heartbreaking” to “watch America’s ally, Bahrain, pull a Qaddafi and use American tanks, guns and tear gas as well as foreign mercenaries to crush a pro-democracy movement — as we stay mostly silent.”

Health Care

“Montana House Republican lawmakers heartily endorsed a plan Tuesday that would force the state’s attorney general to join a lawsuit challenging the federal health care law, a move that sets up a possible showdown with an executive branch controlled by Democrats.”

“Legislative Republicans indicated [yesterday] that they will seek broad federal authority to revamp Minnesota’s major health care programs for the poor, in addition to broad but unspecified cuts in human services.”

“Governor Jan Brewer has outlined a new plan for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System…that would cut costs and shrink enrollment,” but “the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association” says the plan will create “massive job losses.”

Climate Change

The IEEE explains what went wrong at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

“The lead sponsors of House GOP legislation to kill EPA climate change rules” — Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) — “crossed Capitol Hill for Senate meetings Wednesday amid a pending effort by their Senate Republican counterparts to advance the same plan.”

The Ohio River, Des Moines River, Rock River, Big Sioux River, and Mississippi River are swollen with spring floodwaters.


“U.S. industrial production probably rose in February for a third month in the last four, reinforcing manufacturing’s role as a pillar of the expansion, economists said about a report on industrial production to be released today.”

In “a significant marker in what will likely be a multi-year debate on the tax code,” Ways and Means Committee chair Dave Camp (R-MI) told the Wall Street Journal he “wants to cut the top U.S. tax rate to 25% for individuals and corporations, and cut or eliminate many popular deductions.”

“Fewer Americans filed first-time claims for unemployment insurance payments for a third week in the last four, indicating progress in the labor market.”