Campus Notebook: Less Than Free and Equal

Posted November 20, 2009 at 5:47pm

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) introduced a bill last week to decrease the District’s contribution to Medicaid, which she said is higher than any other city in the nation.

[IMGCAP(1)]The bill is part of Norton’s effort to give the city more autonomy, which she has dubbed her “Free and Equal D.C.— series. On Wednesday, Members heard testimony in favor of two bills that would eliminate Congress’ review of D.C.’s budget and legislation. Democrats plan to move them through a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee before the end of the year.

Norton’s newest bill — the District of Columbia Medicaid Reimbursement Act — would increase to 75 percent the federal government’s contribution to the city’s Medicaid. That would mean the District would pay 25 percent for its Medicaid, rather than the 30 percent it currently contributes.

In a press release, Norton claimed that the current system treats D.C. unfairly. States usually bear the burden of Medicaid contributions, but D.C.’s unique status means the burden falls to the local government. New York City is the only other local jurisdiction that contributes to Medicaid, paying 25 percent of its cost.

Voting in the Internet Age. Republicans on the House Administration Committee are working on a bill to encourage online voter registration, in response to legislation from Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) that is making its way through the House.

Republican Reps. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Gregg Harper (Miss.) recently released draft legislation that would provide states with incentives to offer online voting registration. They are currently soliciting feedback from state election officials — and announced last week the support of Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed.

The bill is part of an effort to modernize the country’s voting system. Both Democrats and Republicans say federal steps are necessary, but they disagree on some important particulars.

Lofgren’s bill requires states to offer online registration by 2012 and sets up some regulations, such as one to ensure that voters can register up to 15 days before an election. States would also have to accept completed voter registration forms without requiring signature verification — a provision to which Republicans have strongly objected.

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