The WonkLine: March 28, 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

The U.S. Senate is voting on a series of amendments to cripple Clean Air Act rules against global warming pollution this week.

House GOP are holding another hearing to promote climate skeptics on Thursday — expect agreement that polar bears are just fine.

Eight people have been killed by monsoon floods in Thailand, and two days of flash floods hit Capitola, CA.

National Security

“In what is the latest sign the Qaddafi regime is doomed, Libyan rebels have secured a deal to sell the oil produced in the country to Qatar.”


After more than a week of unrest, “the Syrian government tried to ease a grave political crisis on Sunday by blaming armed gangs for killing 12 people in the northwestern port city of Latakia.”

“The Israeli military deployed the first mobile battery of a new antirocket missile defense system on Sunday.”


UPI reports that “the push against illegal immigration heralded in Arizona last year is fading around the country in the face of business objections.” Four Latino members of the Kansas state House are sponsoring a resolution stating that immigration is a federal policy issue. Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce (R) writes in Politico that the defeat of five immigration bills “was not the last word on illegal immigration in Arizona.”

Health Care

“House Republicans are preparing to propose a major shake-up of the Medicaid health-care program for the poor.”

“The U.S. Justice Department is widening a probe of Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance plans in several states.”


“A handful of high-profile Republicans who may be eyeing the White House told hundreds of conservative activists Saturday that most Americans agree with their values, and insisted that opposition to the president’s health care overhaul could help the GOP make historic gains in 2012.”

LGBT Equality

On Saturday, the Maryland House of Delegates approved the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, which will protect transgender Marylanders from discrimination in areas of employment, housing, and credit.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has fired the lawyer who was defending the state’s same-sex couple registry from an Alliance Defense Fund challenge to the law.

Despite the eight years since Lawrence v. Texas struck down sodomy laws, four states still have the laws on the books with legislators continuing to defend their presence.


The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today in a case which could effectively destroy states’ ability to reduce the influence of money in politics by undercutting public financing schemes.


Meanwhile, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) budget eviscerates that state’s public financing system for state elections — leaving candidates much more depended on big dollar donors to compete.

The Wisconsin GOP has also opened up a Cuccinelli-style witchhunt against a History professor who dared to criticize Gov. Walker.


Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) pushes a $2 billion unfunded mandate onto local school districts.

“The Tennessee House of Representatives has approved a proposal to make it tougher for teachers to get and keep tenure,” sending the bill to the governor for his signature.

Is the University of Phoenix in financial trouble?


The national home vacancy rate “crept up to just over 13% according to last week’s decennial census report. That’s up from 12.1% in 2007,” CNN Money reports.

Wal-Mart is pushing for the Supreme Court to deny a class-action suit brought by female employees who say that they were subject to “unequal pay, sexist remarks and insurmountable obstacles to promotion.”

States grapple with the Amazon tax.