Monday evening the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Senate Bill 3, the Employment Opportunity Act, sponsored by Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora. The Act prohibits pre-employment credit checks that some companies use to screen candidates. Sponsors of the bill say such credit checks can prevent people with low credit scores from finding employment. The bill passed 4-3 on a party line vote.
“Credit scores were never intended to be used in hiring practices,” Carroll said in a statement released after the bill made it through committee. “Tying credit scores with employment opportunity creates a vicious circle that unfairly punishes struggling Coloradans. We should be doing everything in our power to get citizens back to work, and this legislation ensures that we are removing unnecessary punitive barriers and helping citizens get back on their feet.”
Senate Bill 3 prohibits employers from using credit report information unless it is directly related to the position for which a candidate is applying, such as a money or asset management role. If the employer decides not to hire an individual based on information from their credit report, they must disclose this to the applicant. Employers found in violation of this law would be subject to civil penalty. Seven other states have enacted similar laws to prevent credit report discrimination.
Approximately 25.5 percent of Americans currently have poor credit compared with a historical average of 15 percent, and it is estimated that up to 60 percent of employers currently run credit checks on prospective employees.
The bill will now be considered by the full Senate. The bill is sponsored in the House by Rep. Randy Fischer, R-Fort Collins. Republicans who voted against the bill in committee did not quickly return phone calls seeking comment.
A proposal to change the estate tax code to keep more farms and ranches intact is back after U.S. Sen. Mark Udall reintroduced a bipartisan bill last week that never materialized in 2010.
The American Family Farm and Ranchland Protection Act would help families stave off the pressure of selling, dividing or developing their farms and ranches when bequeathing them to the next generation. As the law is currently written, if a conservation easement is placed on a property 40 percent of the value of the land can be exempted from the taxable estate. The amount is capped at 0,000. But under Udall’s proposal, the exclusion rate would rise to 50 percent of the total value of the land and cap it at million, providing tax relief should families designate it for agricultural and conservation use.
A ranch near Old Snowmass. (Photo by Troy Hooper)
“Colorado’s farmers and ranchers are the custodians of our rural and natural heritage, but outdated exemptions in estate tax law are sometimes forcing the loss of valuable agricultural lands,” Udall, D-Colo., said in a press release. “My bill would make a simple fix to our tax code to help make it more consistent and fair, while encouraging more robust conservation of our open spaces. More important, it will encourage families to permanently protect the natural value of their lands through conservation easements so that they can be handed down to the next generation.”
Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, is a co-sponsor along with Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo, Al Franken, D-Minn., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.
“Some of Colorado’s most important wildlife habitats, watersheds and prairies are held by private farmers and ranchers, and we should make sure we give them the tools they need to protect these natural treasures for generations to come,” Bennet said. “This bill would provide estate tax relief for family farms in Colorado and provide necessary incentives to encourage these landowners to protect their lands through conservation easements.”
The senators say the bill has broad public support, including that from the American Farm Bureau, U.S. Cattlemens Association, Defenders of Wildlife, Land Trust Alliance and the Nature Conservancy.
The American Family Farm and Ranchland Protection Act was first introduced on July 22, 2010, and referred to the Committee on Finance, but it never made it out of committee. When the session ended at the end of the year, the bill basically died on a vine and had to be reintroduced this year.
If anyone thought President Obama’s jobs bill was going to slide through the Senate before hitting trouble in the House, they were wrong. The Senate Tuesday couldn’t get enough support even for a debate.
With 60 votes needed to open debate, the measure received 50.
From The Hill:
Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.), an Independent who caucuses with Democrats, supported (Harry) Reid’s bid to begin debate on Obama’s jobs package but voiced misgivings over its substance.
“The bottom line here is that I don’t believe the potential in this act for creating jobs justifies adding another 0 billion to our almost trillion national debt,” Lieberman said.
“In fact, I think the most important thing we can do to improve our economy, reduce unemployment [and] create jobs is to bring our national debt under control.”
Lieberman endorsed the deficit-reduction plan crafted by the fiscal commission headed by former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles. He said he would vote against Obama’s jobs package as a whole if it came to a yes-or-no vote.
Senior White House officials said Tuesday they would work with Senate Democrats to divide the bill into pieces that would be more likely to pass.
Senator Mark Udall released this statement after the vote:
“President Obama’s proposal included reasonable ideas from both sides of the aisle to get Americans back to work and solidify our economic recovery. And it deserved to be taken seriously. I hoped that my colleagues in the Senate would listen to our constituents and come together to work out our differences. I’m disappointed they dismissed the proposal out of hand without even discussing its merits. We owed it to the American people to give the details in the proposal real reflection and open debate, not an ill-considered death by Senate rules.
“There were parts of the president’s proposal with which I didn’t personally agree, but I voted to consider the bill because our economy needs solutions, not partisan games. My office received an overwhelming number of telephone calls, emails and social media messages asking me to bridge the partisan divide for Coloradans who are struggling to find jobs. I’ll continue to work with my colleagues on any plan that creates jobs and gets our economy back on track.”
Before the vote, Colorado Democratic Party Chair Rick Palacio said this:
“Republicans campaigned on jobs last year, but we have yet to see any comprehensive plan from the GOP to put Americans back to work. Their inaction has gone on for too long, and today they can finally contribute to the effort to put Americans back to work. Coloradans looking for work can’t wait any longer.”
Playing the race card is no longer working for the Democratic Party. That stunning pronouncement was made by Bernard Goldberg, author of “A Slobbering Love Affair”. This momentous turn of events highlighted by Goldberg was welcome news to us in the National Black Republican Association (NBRA) who launched our educational campaign six years ago aimed at stopping the Democrats’ race-baiting.
Into the spotlight stepped former President Bill Clinton, brazenly engaging in race mongering by declaring that the passage of voter ID laws by some states was a return to Jim Crow. Clinton told a group of students: "There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the other Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today.”
Clinton’s racism charge is particularly irksome since it is the Democrats who passed those Jim Crow laws as is explained in detail by Wayne Perryman in his book “Whites, Blacks and Racist Democrats” and Ann Coulter in her book “Demonic”.
It was gratifying to observe that Clinton’s incendiary charge was not echoed to any great extent in the liberal media as was done in the past. Instead, he was lambasted by the Wall Street Journal in an article entitled “Bill Clinton Does ‘Jim Crow’ “ That article can be found on the Internet by clicking here.
Even more grating is the fact that Bill Clinton, himself, engaged in unconscionable racism against black Americans while governor of Arkansas and president, benefiting from the poisonous racial climate engendered by his fellow Democrats. A particularly odious Democrat was Public Safety Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor in Birmingham who let loose vicious dogs and turned skin-burning fire hoses on black civil rights demonstrators during the 60s. Another racist Democrat was Alabama Governor George Wallace. Michael Barone described Wallace as “a man who really didn’t believe in anything—a political opportunist who used opposition to integration to try and get himself ahead.” This description aptly fits Bill Clinton, too.
Following in the footsteps of his mentor J. William Fulbright, a staunch segregationist, Clinton refused to enforce a court-ordered affirmative action plan while president and was himself sued for discriminating against his black employees while he was a governor. Clinton also had his Attorney General, Janet Reno, file a class action, reverse discrimination lawsuit on behalf of a group of white janitors at Illinois State University to stop the University from hiring blacks. None of Clinton’s inner-circle of advisors was black, and Clinton failed to take action to stop the massacre of over 800,000 Rwandans. Without congressional or UN approval, Clinton sent 20,000 troops to help the white Europeans in Bosnia, but refused to send troops to help the 800,000 blacks in Africa.
Clinton showed the extent of his disdain for black Americans when he praised former Ku Klux Klansman Senator Robert Byrd at his funeral and gave Byrd a pass for being a recruiter for the Klan. Never mind the Klan was responsible for killing (lynching) 3,000 Republicans—2,000 blacks and 1,000 whites.
His anti-black actions and attitude show he clearly deserves the moniker: Bill “Bull Connor” Clinton.
Frances Rice is a lawyer, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and chairman of the National Black Republican Association. She may be contacted on the Internet at: www.NBRA.info
On June 23, the Ohio Senate passed HB 194, the Secretary of State’s omnibus election law bill. As mentioned earlier, it moves the primary in presidential years from March to May, and it moves the petition deadline for new party petitions from 120 days before the primary to 90 days before the primary. Although this is obviously better than having a deadline of November of the year before the election, it still gives Ohio an unconstitutionally early petition deadline of early February.
The bill is not entirely through the legislature. The Senate amended some unrelated aspects, and so it must go back to the House for concurrence. That will happen on June 27 at the earliest.
Assuming the bill is signed into law in the next two weeks, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted will probably rule that the new law is valid, and that therefore the four minor parties that were on the ballot in 2008 and 2010 (Constitution, Green, Libertarian, and Socialist) are no longer ballot-qualified. This is not certain, however. A new lawsuit is extremely likely; the new lawsuit will argue that the new law is just as unconstitutional as the old law.
On Wednesday, a U.S. House subcommittee will discuss a bill filed by chair Lamar Smith, R-Texas, that would require the use of E-Verify, the federal program that verifies if a worker is authorized to work in the U.S.
While 26 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed, 7 million individuals work illegally in the United States. On top of all the challenges Americans face today, it is inexcusable that Americans and legal workers have to compete with illegal immigrants for scarce jobs.
Fortunately, there is a tool available to preserve jobs for legal workers: E-Verify. But the program is voluntary. Congress has the opportunity to expand E-Verify — including making it mandatory — so more job opportunities are made available to unemployed Americans.
Participants in a recent conference call hosted by the National Immigration Forum said mandatory E-Verify without immigration reform would harm the U.S. economy.
Tyler Moran, policy director for the National Immigration Law Center, said that if mandatory E-verify is implemented without broader immigration reform it will force some workers into the cash economy outside of our tax system, ship agricultural jobs overseas and force between 3 and 4 million American workers to stand in a government line to correct their records or lose their jobs, and that 770, 000 people will likely lose their jobs because of government database errors in E-Verify.
Craig J. Regelbrugge, vice president for government relations and research at the American Nursery & Landscape Association said that mandatory E-Verify without broader solutions would have the largest impact on the agriculture and seasonal employment sectors of the economy, resulting in economic dislocation, production declines, fewer jobs and more imports.
Moran added that Arizona is the best forecast of what mandatory E-Verify would look like without a legalization program. Implemented in January 2008, there are three significant outcomes from that Arizona law: Undocumented workers did not go home and most have moved into the cash economy; employers are coaching workers about how to get around the photo screening tool, the only mechanism to address ID theft; and half of employers are not using E-Verify for new hires despite penalties that could result in the loss of their business license.
Late last month, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the 2007 Legal Arizona Workers Act, a decision that deepens the debate between between supporters and detractors of mandatory state and federal E-Verify programs.
On May 30, the Nevada legislature passed AB 81. It injures major political parties, new political parties, and independent voters. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 11-10, with all Democrats voting “yes” and all Republicans voting “no.” Governor Brian Sandoval is a Republican and it is possible he will veto it.
The bill, one of the Secretary of State’s omnibus election law bills, deletes the easier method for new or previously unqualified parties to get on the ballot. Existing law gives groups two choices to get on the ballot: (1) a petition signed by 1% of the last US House vote throughout the state, which required 9,083 signatures for the 2010 election; or (2) a petition for each candidate of that party, which requires 250 signatures for a statewide nominee and 100 for a U.S. House nominee. The bill deletes the second, easier method. However, the bill does not affect presidential elections, because the old easy method does not apply to presidential nominees.
Oddly, the bill does not disturb the easy requirements for non-presidential independent candidates. They can still get on the ballot with 250 signatures, if running for statewide office, or 100 for U.S. House.
AB 81 also moves the petition deadline for new parties from May to April, even though in 1986 a U.S. District Court in Nevada struck down the old April petition deadline for new parties, in Libertarian Party of Nevada v Swackhamer, 638 F.Supp. 565.
AB 81 also tells parties that nominate by primary that they cannot invite independents to vote in their primary. Only the Democratic and Republican Parties nominate by primary in Nevada. They have not been letting independents vote in their primaries recently anyway, but previously, the law was silent on whether independents can vote in primaries. AB 81 bars a party from inviting independents to vote in its primary. That part of the bill would be unconstitutional under Tashjian v Republican Party of Connecticut, but only the Democratic and Republican Parties would have standing to bring a lawsuit against the restriction. In Nevada, smaller qualified parties nominate by convention. The only qualified minor parties currently in Nevada are the Independent American (Constitution) and Libertarian Parties. They, of course, are free to decide for themselves who votes at their state nominating conventions.
If you wish to ask Governor Brian Sandoval to veto the bill, his fax is 775-684-5683. His postal address is Capitol, 101 N. Carson St., Carson City Nv 89701.
The three Republican women in the Colorado state Senate this year have voted as a bloc in support of at least two big family-protection bills that their male Republican colleagues have opposed. Weeks ago, Sens Ellen Roberts, Nancy Spence and Jean White argued passionately from the right in favor of same-sex civil unions as a way to bolster families headed by gay couples. The senators argued again passionately this week in favor of legislation that would combat school bullying, which can sink child confidence with tragic results and tear up families.
HB 1254 (pdf) passed in the House in March and in the Senate on Thursday. It is now headed to the governor’s desk for a signature.
In voting for the bill Senator White from Hayden said the fact that thousands of bullied kids avoid attending classes in Colorado in 2011 is “ridiculous.” In casting her vote, she said her own children, like so many, were bullied for things they had no control over.
“I think that every single day children are bullied to the point of turning into hypochondriacs because they need an excuse to stay home from school,” she said. “They’re bullied for all kinds of reasons at all levels. They’re bullied for their sexual orientation, for being fat, for being too tall, for having pimples. Our children were bullied for being adopted. Our children were bullied for living in a big house. It’s ridiculous. Kids need to know that when they go to school they have a safe environment that they can learn in and they don’t have to feel like they need an excuse to stay home from school.”
Centennial Republican Nancy Spence said the move to put more responsibility on adult school faculty and staff to prevent bullying was long overdue.
“[W]e heard testimony in committee where teachers ignore instances of bullying, such as hitting and kicking and shoving and pushing,” she said. “That’s another reason this bill is important. There needs to be a message given to staff at our school that bullying is no longer acceptable, if it ever was…. This bill is going to protect children and get a message to teachers that bullying will not be tolerated.”
A bipartisan problem
The bipartisan bill was sponsored in the House by Reps Sue Schafer, D-Wheat Ridge, and Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, and in the Senate by Pat Steadman, D-Denver. Its authors introduced it in the wake of a spate of tragic news stories from around the country detailing the fact that bullying was an ongoing source of youth suicide coast to coast. Schafer and Priola told the press they wrote the bill in order to head off a “sensational suicide” in Colorado.
Sens Roberts, Spence and White were joined by all of the Senate Democrats and Republican Steve King in voting in favor of the bill. The Republican-controlled House passed the bill with 47 aye votes and 18 nays.
Colorado has led in the nation in working to limit bullying ever since the 1999 Columbine shootings. Among the programs put in place is a successful phone and texting hotline that encourages kids to anonymously report trouble.
Supporters of HB 1254, however, say putting much of the onus on kids to intervene isn’t good enough. The bill puts more responsibility on adults to directly work to solve the problem. It establishes school codes of conduct and reporting and it establishes an interim committee of lawmakers to study school bullying in the state. It also creates a board to award grants to promising anti-bullying programs and to evaluate those programs
According to a 2009 Healthy Kids Colorado survey (pdf), roughly 19 percent of all Colorado high school kids report being bullied. Roughly 30 percent say they have gotten into fights. Roughly 7 percent have been threatened with weapons. Last year more than 5 percent of all Colorado high schoolers stayed home from school for fear of bullying, which translates to 12,000 teen students. Among certain demographic groups, the percentages soar. Linda Kanan, director of the Department of Public Safety’s School Safety Resource Center, told the Independent that roughly 37 percent of gay and transgender kids avoid school for fear of bullying.
New-style conservative family values
Months ago voting in favor of same-sex civil unions, Ellen Roberts spoke for the women Republicans in the Senate when she said that the fact is gay people are having kids and that current state law does not protect them. There is no law providing for arrangements in the case of break ups. There are no child support and visitation laws that cover gay couples, she pointed out. She told the Colorado Independent she tried to talk about these reasons to support the bill among the Senate GOP caucus but to mostly no avail.