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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

New policy to decriminalize marijuana in Harris County will save time, money, DAs office says

By Brian Rogers, Houston Chronicle

Houston and Harris County are poised to decriminalize low-level possession of marijuana in a sweeping move that puts the area at the forefront of efforts in Texas to halt minor drug arrests that clog jails and courts.

District Attorney Kim Ogg announced the new policy Thursday with Mayor Sylvester Turner, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.

The policy, set to begin March 1, means that misdemeanor offenders with less than four ounces of marijuana will not be arrested, ticketed or required to appear in court if they agree to take a four-hour drug education class, officials said.


Baby Steps. This is Texas we are talking about

Kellyanne's next job?

Senate advances Trumps EPA pick

Source: The Hill

The Senate is moving forward with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt's nomination to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The chamber voted 54-46 to advance Pruitt’s nomination, clearing the simple majority needed. Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) were the only Democrats to vote in favor of cloture on Pruitt's nomination, joining all 52 Republicans.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on Wednesday became the only Republican senator to announce that she would oppose Pruitt, though she voted in favor of cloture for his nomination on Thursday.

Collins — who has voted against other Trump Cabinet nominees — told a local Maine radio station that she had concerns about how Pruitt would be able to run an agency he had spent much of his time as Oklahoma's top lawyer opposing and suing.

Read more: http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/319852-senate-advances-trumps-epa-pick

Yes, There Is a Trump Infrastructure Project Already Under Way: For-Profit Prisons for Immigrants

One of the regular complaints lodged against the new Trump administration is that the president’s long-discussed plans for job-boosting infrastructure investments are still largely a matter of vague promises that his allies in Congress don’t seem to take very seriously.

But hey, that may be unfair. There is one area where there’s a lot of excitement in the air about new construction and new jobs: in the private prison industry! And that’s not just because the president appears generally to enjoy incarcerating people, or because he strongly rejected the plans of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to end the practice of warehousing criminals in for-profit facilities. No, there’s a real-live boom under way for private prison companies thanks to Trump’s early executive order calling for an expansion of detention centers for undocumented immigrants near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Overshadowed by the chaotically implemented and soon-stalled travel ban, Trump’s border-enforcement order is being implemented. And among other things, that’s meant happy days are here again for private prisons, as explained by Jenny Jarvie of the Los Angeles Times, who went to South Texas and felt the excitement:

When John Chavez peers through chain link and razor wire into the vast tent city that once housed one of the nation’s most notorious prisons for immigrants, he does not see a failed experiment.


President Trump's Health Pick Says Maternity Leave Should Be Optional

(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump's pick to lead the government's major health insurance programs says maternity coverage should be optional for patients.

Indiana health care consultant Seema Verma tells the Senate Finance Committee that patients — not the government — should determine the insurance benefits they need.

Verma was facing questions from Michigan Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow about the Obama-era health law. That law made maternity and newborn coverage a mandatory benefit for all health insurance plans.

Verma tells Stabenow that some women want maternity coverage and "some women might not choose that."


Sales of anti-choice license plates in the US are funding unregulated clinics that push medical lies

In the US, drivers stick vanity license plates on their cars to express support for everything from national parks and veterans to breast cancer awareness—and anti-abortion clinics. Twenty-nine states offer “Choose Life” license plates that cost anywhere from $25 to $70, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

In 1997, Randy Harris, a county commissioner in Florida, started the organization Choose Life to promote the creation and sale of these license plates across the country. He wanted to use sales to fund “pro-life pregnancy centers” and “other life affirming agencies,” according to the organization’s website. In 2000, Florida became the first state to pass legislation that allowed the sale of these specialty plates.

Proceeds from those sales were initially passed on to counties in Florida. Then, in 2011, Choose Life successfully lobbied for a statute that would allow the organization to administer the funds and distribute them to pregnancy care centers, maternity homes, and non-profit adoption agencies.

After their victory in Florida, the organization pushed for similar programs in other states across the country. From 2000 to date, the number of states that allow Choose Life license plates grew to 29; anti-abortion groups are currently working on pushing through legislation to allow Choose Life plates in an additional 16 states.


Thursday TOON Roundup 3- The Rest









Mr. Fish

Thursday TOON Roundup 2 - All the Putin's Men

Thursday Toon Roundup 1- Leaky Leaky

Trump's IRS stages a stealth attack on Obamacare

The Internal Revenue Service has become the first agency to follow President Trump’s directive to start undermining the Affordable Care Act.

In a quiet rule change, but an important one, the IRS has told tax preparers and software firms that it won’t automatically reject tax returns that fail to state whether the tax filer had health insurance during the year. That effectively loosens enforcement of the ACA’s individual mandate. It appears to be a direct response to Trump’s Jan. 20 executive order requiring federal agencies “minimize...the economic and regulatory burdens of the Act.”

We observed at the time that the executive order would cripple ACA insurance exchanges, not only by signaling the Trump Administration’s open hostility to Obamacare, but by kicking a leg out from the regulatory stool supporting the act.

The IRS action its the first manifestation of that. The agency hasn’t announced its rule change publicly, but it was picked up by Peter Suderman of Reason and Kathleen Pender of the San Francisco Chronicle, who both reported it Tuesday.

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