The Wonkline: February 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.


The California Supreme Court will decide an important procedural question which could decide the fate of anti-gay Prop 8.

Republicans in the Virginia House blocked a bill intended to check Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s (R) witchhunt against climate scientists.

The Idaho House passed a wildly unconstitutional bill nullifying the Affordable Care Act.

LGBT Equality

“Sabrina McKenna was confirmed to the Hawaii supreme court Wednesday, making her the first openly gay judge to serve on the state’s highest court.”


“The Wyoming Senate advanced legislation that would ban recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions from outside the state.”

“A big crowd is expected in Concord, N.H., when the House Judiciary Committee considers two bills that would repeal New Hampshire’s same-sex marriage law.”

Climate Change

Congress From Koch: The House of Representatives last night passed an amendment from the Koch Industries representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS) to cut $8.5 million from the EPA budget, which is the amount it has allocated for its greenhouse gas registry.

Confirming the obvious to anyone who’s been watching the world’s weather go haywire, Nature publishes a pair of articles that link greenhouse pollution to killer weather disasters.


“Hundred-year-old records are tumbling as unrelenting heat sets New Zealand on course for its hottest February ever.”

National Security

“Without warning, hundreds of heavily armed riot police officers rushed into Pearl Square here early Thursday, firing tear gas and concussion grenades at the thousands of demonstrators who were sleeping there as part of a widening protest against the nation’s absolute monarchy.” “The wave of street clashes sweeping across the Middle East continued Thursday in Yemen and Bahrain.” “A provincial court gave the Pakistani government three weeks on Thursday to decide whether the American official in custody for killing two Pakistanis has diplomatic immunity.”


“”Production at U.S. factories climbed in January for a fifth consecutive month, while builders began work on fewer single-family houses, showing the expansion remains driven by manufacturing as housing stagnates. “

“A bipartisan group of senators is considering legislation that would trigger new taxes and budget cutsif Congress fails to meet a set of mandatory spending targets and other fiscal goals aimed at reducing federal deficits.”


Republicans will escalate their push to delay and defund the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms on Thursday as top regulators appear before the Senate Banking Committee with new chairman Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) presiding.


“At least 15 school systems in Wisconsin canceled Thursday’s classes because teachers and other public employees will continue protests at the state Capitol over a bill that would strip them of most of their collective bargaining rights and increase their contributions for benefits.”

“At a White House ceremony yesterday, President Barack Obama honored recipients of the 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom.” Among this year’s recipients was Sylvia Mendez, “who more than six decades ago took the fight for school desegregation to the highest court in the nation.”

“Rep. David Chavez introduced a bill Tuesday that would require public middle school students to visit jail and juvenile detention facilities. Chavez believes the reality check would keep kids in school and out of trouble.”

Health Care

“Unless Gov. Sean Parnell acts by Friday, Alaska may be ineligible for federal grants to plan and operate a health insurance exchange.”

“Governor Deval Patrick (MA) plans to file long-awaited legislation today that would give him authority to scrutinize the fees paid to hospitals and doctors, part of a proposal to transform how providers are compensated and to curb rising health care costs, according to high-level administration officials.”

“A state bill to expand the definition of justifiable homicide in South Dakota to include killing someone in the defense of an unborn child was postponed indefinitely Wednesday after an uproar over whether the legislation would put abortion providers at greater risk.”


New documented released as a result of a lawsuit against DHS “reveal an agency at odds over how to handle criticism of Secure Communities.” A Democratic-led Virginia state Senate subcommittee struck down a series of Republican bills sent over from the GOP-led House to crack down on illegal immigration. A bill that would provide a process to reimburse hospitals for services they provide to undocumented immigrants — and cost the state millions — passed out of the Utah state House Health and Human Services Committee.