The WonkLine: April 14, 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.


Climate Change

“Forecasters expect the wildfire potential across the western half of Texas to expand and become more explosive Thursday,” as more than 900 firefighters from 34 states battle the fires that have already consumed 700 square miles.

Entitled “Talking Points for Selling and Gas Lease Rights,” a document acquired by TreeHugger implores ‘Field Agents’ to mislead people about the risks of drilling, to omit important facts, and even, on occasion, to outright lie.

Budget cuts to NOAA will delay the launch of a critical weather satellite, leading to a “50% error increase in [forecasting] precipitation rates in southern US.”


Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will consider Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s (R) request that they bypass the court of appeals and agree to hear his Affordable Care Act challenge right way. Cuccinelli shouldn’t hold his breath expecting them to take the case.

Meanwhile, Cuccinelli is taking time out of his busy schedule spent trying to strip Americans of their health care to attack gay couples’ right to adopt children.

Tennessee’s Attorney General says that a proposed voter ID law in that state is an unconstitutional poll tax.


Both Alabama and New Jersey received approval from the Department of Education to cut their special education budgets (which requires a federal waiver); Oregon’s request was denied.

The budget deal that the House will vote on today “would make sharp cuts in foreign-language and international academic programs, with some university officials saying they could result in staff layoffs.”

The South Carolina legislature has revived a school vouchers bill that has come up for debate several times but never passed.

LGBT Equality

Delaware’s House takes up the civil unions bill that was released from committee yesterday. Several amendments have already been proposed, including requiring a public referendum before the law could take effect.

Proponents of California’s Proposition 8 are still vying to keep videos of the court proceedings from being seen by anyone.

The National Organization for Marriage’s recent turncoat, Louis Marinelli, continues to attack his former employer, this week calling out their “secret online propaganda team.”


The House will vote today on the spending plan for the rest of fiscal year 2011 that was negotiated last Friday night and then vote tomorrow on House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget.

“Banks did a poor job of handling the flood of foreclosures over the last several years, in some cases even moving ahead with evictions when they clearly should not have,” according to a new report from federal regulators.

Republicans are tying up California’s budget in an attempt to prevent Gov. Jerry Brown (D) from fulfilling his campaign pledge to allow voters to decide whether some taxes should be extended.

National Security

Italy and Qatar are calling on the allies to ramp up support for rebels in Libya. While the U.S. has dialed back its presence, American jets still bomb Libyan targets and Washington has left open the possibility of arming rebels.

“Three members of the United Nations panel that investigated Israel’s Gaza war two years ago rejected on Thursday an essay by the fourth, former chairman Richard Goldstone, which retracted key conclusions, especially that Israel had deliberately targeted civilians.”

Since 2001, the Taliban movement “has rebounded,” deepening its infiltration of Afghan institutions and has “sharpened its surveillance of Afghan and foreign troops.”


Georgia assembly session is about to end, with an Arizona-type immigration bill still on the table.

Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) said yesterday that “a bill aimed at implementing an Arizona-style law should focus more on Indiana employers and less on law enforcement.”

Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) said that proposed immigration bill in the Sunshine state doesn’t go far enough because it doesn’t give law enforcement officers “the ability to ask for proof of status when they pull someone over.”

Health Care

“The House on Wednesday voted to terminate another piece of last year’s healthcare law — the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which is currently scheduled to receive nearly $18 billion over the next few years.”

“President Obama proposed Wednesday tighter curbs on Medicare spending.”

“Vermont Legislature committees don’t ordinarily clap or shout ‘yahoo’ when they vote out a bill, but Wednesday, members of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee celebrated their unanimous recommendation on the contentious health reform bill.”