The WonkLine: May 27, 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.


Health Care

“A bill introduced Thursday by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) would repeal part of the healthcare reform law and expand the use of tax-exempt health savings accounts.”

“Gov. Martin O’Malley is announcing the creation of an Office of Health Care Reform and the members of a board that will oversee Maryland’s Health Benefit Exchange.”

“A group of Republican lawmakers has asked appropriators to avoid making deep cuts to the budget of the National Institutes of Health.”


A Wisconsin judge struck down Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial plan limiting public employee’s collective bargaining power for violating the state’s open records law.

The Alabama House voted 56-43 on Wednesday to overhaul of state tenure law. The bill would limit teachers’ abilities to contest transfers, layoffs, and dismissals.

In the wake of soaring student debt and continuing unemployment, the Department of Education is planning to cut off federal student aid to for-profit colleges and universities.

LGBT Equality

As they had threatened, Catholic charities in Illinois are ending all foster care and adoption services rather than have to provide those services to same-sex couples when civil unions become legal next week.

The House of Representatives has approved the National Defense Authorization Act, complete with the anti-gay provisions that had been added to it.

The large LGBT lobbying group the Human Rights Campaign has officially endorsed Barack Obama for President in 2012.


A federal appeals court upheld San Francisco’s instant runoff voting system, which allows voters to rank candidates in an election and have their votes transfer to their second or third choice if their first choice is not elected.

The latest round of law school dean hires includes significantly more women than in past years.

Virginia is considering privatizing a program that detains sex offenders beyond their prison sentences, because what could possibility go wrong with that?

National Security

Yemen “degenerated further into bloody conflict as clashes beyond the capital drew in more tribal factions and threatened to widen the fighting between government forces and opposition tribesmen.”

Pakistan has agreed to allow the CIA to send a forensics team to examine the compound where Osama bin Laden was killed.

“Libya’s prime minister called for a cease-fire Thursday, saying for the first time that the government would be willing to talk to the rebels, but the White House immediately rejected the offer as not credible.”


After a two-day summit in France, the G8 concluded the global economy is gaining strength, but warned that it could be hampered by a rising commodity prices.

Republicans are struggling with the implications of budget cuts, as many GOP members of congress are arguing against cuts to the National Health Institute.

Officials in Oregon cite unemployment as the chief cause for a 29 percent spike in homelessness in the last 2 years.

Climate Change

As the search continues for victims of the Joplin tornado, new extreme storms hit the east coast from Georgia to Vermont.

A major Everest glacier is “turning into a lake” due to rapid global warming.

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) criticized federal regulators Thursday for a “lack of urgency” to halt speculation despite mounting evidence suggesting oil speculation is driving up the cost of gasoline.


The Supreme Court voted 5-3 yesterday to uphold an Arizona law which imposes harsh penalties on businesses that hire illegal immigrants. Several other states have implemented similar laws.

Democrats in California’s Assembly voted to limit immigration checks after arrests, arguing that immigrants would be more willing to report crime if they didn’t fear deportation.

Famers in Georgia argue that the state’s stiff immigration laws are responsible for a labor shortage that could put millions of dollars in crops in jeopardy