The WonkLine: April 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.


Climate Change

Al Gore and Van Jones will speak this evening at Power Shift 2011, addressing youth activists who want to “hold President Obama accountable” for not doing enough to change the energy conversation in this country.

The Gulf of Mexico disaster could “absolutely” happen again, an Associated Press investigation finds.

“N.L. Winter says that in his 106 years on the rolling plains of West Texas, he has never seen anything like the fires of the past week.”


Anti-gay supporters of California’s Prop 8 are very, very angry that former Judge Vaughn Walker is showing video of them losing their case defending the marriage ban in his court.

The GOP Speaker of the Florida House wants give Gov. Rick Scott (R) the ability to pack the state Supreme Court with three new justices and neutralize the court’s Democratic members.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R-MA) incipient presidential campaign finds a $1.5 million loophole that they can drive their fundraising truck through.


The final Education Department budget will total “$68.5 billion for fiscal year 2011, down from $69.8 billion in the previous fiscal year.”

The emergency manager of Detroit’s public schools system sent layoffs notices to every teacher in the district yesterday. The actual number of layoffs that will be finalized is still unknown.

The Illinois Senate approved an bill yesterday reforming the way in which teachers are hired and fired and revamping the state’s contract mediation process. The legislation has the support of the state’s teachers union.

LGBT Equality

Today, a House subcommittee will hold a “defending marriage” hearing; two of the three witnesses are anti-LGBT, including the National Organization for Marriage’s Maggie Gallagher.

Last evening, Delaware’s House approved a civil unions bill that the governor is expected to sign.

California’s Senate has passed the FAIR Education Act, which would ensure that LGBT people are included in the state’s textbooks and instructional materials.


Both the House and the Senate approved a funding plan for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 yesterday; the vote was 260-167 in the House and 81-19 in the Senate.

The World Bank warned yesterday that further spikes in global food prices “could push millions more people deeper into poverty.”

The latest rule-making calendar released by the Securities and Exchange Commission “indicates that the agency will miss adoption deadlines on a long list of rules mandated by last year’s financial-regulatory overhaul.”

National Security

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to unveil a new Middle East peace initiative in an address to the U.S. Congress next month, in a bid to counter a unilateral Palestinian drive for international recognition of statehood.”

“Bahrain’s foreign minister said on Friday the Gulf Arab state was not trying to dissolve the biggest opposition party, in comments that came after the United States criticized legal action against the group, Wefaq.”

“NATO’s foreign ministers, showing the strains of fighting two wars at once, tried to play down divisions over the intensity of the air campaign against Libya on Thursday, urging patience and resolve as the alliance carried out what one official called “a significant level” of attacks on Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces.”


“Following Arizona’s lead, the Georgia Legislature on Thursday passed a strict measure that would empower police to check the immigration status of ‘criminal’ suspects and force many businesses to do the same with potential employees.”

“The Arizona Legislature gave final approval late Thursday night to a proposal that would require President Barack Obama and other presidential candidates to prove they are U.S. citizens before their names can appear on the state’s ballot.”

“The Farm Service Agency has set up a process to resolve claims by Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who say they were discriminated against when seeking farm loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”

Health Care

Yesterday, the Senate rejected a bill that would have blocked funding for implementation of the Affordable Care Act and Planned Parenthood.

“In laying out his framework to cut the deficit, President Obama appears to have abandoned a campaign promise he reneged on last year in order to get his health care reform bill passed: using the buying power of the federal government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for Medicare.”

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will likely find out today “whether the state’s lawsuit over federal health care reform legislation will be fast-tracked to the U.S. Supreme Court.”