Jacob Fischler

Impeachment frenzy? Not so much in the other Washington
Even among Democrats, impeachment trails health care, climate change

VANCOUVER, Wash. — At three official events throughout her southwest Washington district last week, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler’s constituents bemoaned the lack of national unity seen during World War II, related troubling stories of new mothers struggling with insufficient health care and watched their children sing at a Veterans Day commemoration.

They did not ask the five-term Republican, a target of House Democrats’ campaign arm, about the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

As abortion ‘gag rule’ lands in court, states seek funding fix
Six states pull out of Title X program rather than comply with new regulations

As the federal government defends a rule in appeals court Monday prohibiting health care providers who take federal money for family planning services from referring patients to abortion providers, some states that haven’t complied are making plans for continuing without the program.

An 11-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit will hear arguments in San Francisco on Monday about whether the rule should be in effect during court challenges brought by 22 states and family planning providers like Planned Parenthood.

As states legalize marijuana, pesticides may be a blind spot
Without EPA guidance for states to follow, pot users may be exposed to unknown harms

People who consume marijuana medically or recreationally may be exposing themselves to unknown health risks from toxic pesticides.

The EPA would ordinarily evaluate pesticide safety but has never done so for marijuana because the plant is illegal under federal law. So, states with legalized marijuana industries have been tasking newly created cannabis regulators, health officials and others with setting testing standards for pesticide residues present on the plant.

More states allowing gun seizures amid plague of mass shootings
But opposition from interests that have thwarted prior gun control efforts remains strong

Mike DeWine knows he’s in for a challenge.

The Ohio governor, a Republican trying to push gun control proposals through a legislature where the GOP holds supermajorities in both chambers, saw his predecessor, John Kasich, try the same thing without success.

Conservative judicial group is top donor to GOP state elections arm
Judicial Crisis Network previously spent millions to support Trump’s Supreme Court nominees

Gerrymandering in mind, parties target state legislative races
Redistricting fears spur 2020 urgency

With the Supreme Court’s recent ruling green-lighting partisan gerrymandering, groups on both sides of the aisle are looking at the 2020 elections as crucial to drawing what they describe as fair maps.

Democratic groups learned lessons from the last decennial cycle, when the 2010 GOP wave allowed Republicans in statehouses across the country to redraw congressional and state legislative lines in their favor, and they are paying attention to down-ballot races this time in an attempt to counteract it.

Oregon’s GOP senators are still missing after stopping carbon bill
Republicans stayed away from the chamber to avoid action on emissions measure

PORTLAND, Ore. — Seemingly outnumbered on a polarizing climate change bill, Republican members of the Oregon Senate fled the state last week to deny Democrats the chance to pass it.

But even after Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney conceded there weren't enough Democratic votes to pass the measure, the 11 Republican members of the chamber remained away from the state capital in Salem on Wednesday.

Trump energy plan faces legal blitz over weaker emissions standards
Democratic state AGs join environmental groups saying they’ll sue the federal government over the rule

Blue states and green groups are gearing up to sue the Trump administration over its new carbon emissions rule finalized Wednesday, which critics say fails to address climate change and the public health risks associated with pollution from the power sector.

The EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy rule rescinds the Obama administration’s ambitious Clean Power Plan and replaces it with less stringent guidelines for states and coal-fired power plants to reduce their emissions.

Safe climate a constitutional right, young plaintiffs tell court
But government argues case violates Constitution’s separation of powers

PORTLAND, Ore. — A court case brought by 21 children and young adults asserting a constitutional right to safe climate may turn on the judiciary’s view of its own power to create climate policy.

Much of a hearing before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals here Tuesday afternoon centered on the judicial role in establishing a response to climate change and what rights a group of young activists have to challenge the government’s role in creating a climate crisis. If successful, the suit could require federal agencies to create a comprehensive climate action plan. The shape of such a plan is still unclear. 

Washington goes slow on self-driving cars, and states don’t mind
State-level policymakers were among those who sank bills in Congress last year

SAN RAMON, Calif. — Electronic chimes sounded as the self-driving minibus halted its crawl through the parking lot of an upscale office park here. There was no obvious reason for the stop, so its operator made a note to report it, then used a touch screen to restart the shuttle’s test drive.

The bright red, 12-passenger vehicle, which maxes out at 12 mph and was designed by French firm EasyMile, is part of an effort to use autonomous technology to improve access to transit stations in the area. But first, as the unscheduled stop on a breezy April day showed, the shuttle needs extensive testing to make sure it’s safe for public roads.

States spend big on make-or-break 2020 census
California has already allocated $100 million as citizenship question looms

Freed from the budget constraints that dogged them during the last census and with a growing understanding of what accurate population counts mean for the possibility of federal dollars, states are spending at an unprecedented rate on efforts to boost census outreach.

California has already allocated more than $100 million on efforts aimed at getting all its residents counted in the 2020 census. No state approaches that total, but 10 others have enacted laws to spend a total of $31.7 million to make sure as many residents as possible are counted, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

California remains ground zero for data privacy fight
New law seeks to define internet users’ rights

Former Gov. Jerry Brown signed it almost a year ago, but it’s still unclear what California’s first-in-the-nation data privacy law will look like in practice. 

The law was the first in the United States to attempt to define internet users’ rights over their personal data that companies often sell for marketing purposes. But ahead of the law’s Jan. 1, 2020, implementation date, the state is still grappling with the balance between consumer protection and a light regulatory approach that has allowed the tech sector to become a major part of the California economy.

Colorado joins effort to elect presidents by popular vote, go around Electoral College
Colorado is the latest state to join a group pledging to elect presidents based on who wins the national popular vote

Colorado has become the latest state — and the first swing state — to join a group pledging to elect presidents based on who wins the national popular vote.

Eleven other states and the District of Columbia have signed onto the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, an agreement that requires those states to select their presidential electors based on who wins the most individual votes nationwide, regardless of which candidate wins in the state.

State lawmakers seek ban on Amazon-like incentives
Lawmakers in at least 3 states are pushing bills banning incentives similar to what Amazon received for its HQ2

Lawmakers in at least three states are pushing similar bills that would ban the states’ power to give corporate incentives like the kind offered to Amazon to locate its second headquarters.

The bills in New York, Illinois and Arizona would ban the states from offering incentives to any specific company. Existing state incentive agreements would remain in place under the bills. The proposals create a challenge for lawmakers who don't want to implement a prohibition on the incentives in their own states unless other states do as well.

Which ballot measure would you rather have a beer with?
Voters routinely back initiatives that clash with their candidate picks — and that’s changing how things get done

As voters across the country made their choices last year on ballot issues and political candidates, a disconnect emerged.

While Democrats in Colorado swept statewide races, voters sent a different message on taxes and spending by rejecting ballot measures endorsed by Democrats that would have increased revenue for education and transportation.

New Jersey Police Seek Immigrants’ Trust, Get Pushback From ICE
Tensions rise in sanctuary clash between state, federal law enforcement

Ten New Jersey law enforcement officers — including stern-looking state troopers and local police chiefs — are the stars of a series of unusual videos in which they seek the trust of undocumented immigrants, each explaining in a different language that police in the Garden State are not allowed to turn them over to federal immigration officials.

Long Hill Township Police Chief Ahmed Naga speaks in Arabic, and State Police Lt. Col. Fritz Fragé makes the pitch in Haitian Creole. And the top cop in the State Police, Col. Patrick Callahan, says in English that “we cannot do our jobs without the trust of the communities we serve.”

Wisconsin GOP’s Lame-Duck Play: ‘A New Philosophy of Governing’
Democrats’ wins do not prevent late play to curtail their authority in new year

The Scott Walker era in Wisconsin is ending much as it began: With a controversial effort to weaken his political opponents that attracted protests and a national spotlight to Madison.

Tuesday, protestors continued to disrupt an extraordinary session of the state Legislature but didn’t change the outcome as both chambers moved to approve a GOP bill to enhance the Legislature’s power at the expense of Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers, who defeated Walker in the Republican’s attempt at winning a third term last month, and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul. Republicans maintained control of both legislative chambers in the Nov. 6 elections.

Can You Run for Congress and President? Depends Where
Politicians being considered for president in 2020 face diverging state laws on current positions

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, signed a law this month clarifying that a candidate for one of the state’s U.S. Senate or House seats can also run in presidential primaries.

Locals nicknamed it Cory’s Law, a cheeky acknowledgment that Sen. Cory Booker is up for re-election in 2020 and is also expected to launch a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

End of the Road for the Highway King Shusters
For the first time in 46 years, south-central Pennsylvania will not send a Shuster to Congress

EVERETT, Pa. — Bud Shuster leaned away from a desk in his farmhouse as he considered the differences between his chairmanship of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and that of his son, Bill, who succeeded him in Congress and retires at the end of this session.

In his six years as chairman, the younger Shuster checked off all the major items in his committee’s jurisdiction, shepherding long-term authorization bills for roads, transit and aviation and three consecutive water resources development bills to enactment. In an era when Congress was known more for dysfunction and gridlock than delivering major legislation, that was no small feat, and it set a record unmatched since his father’s stint as chairman from 1995 to 2001.

Senate Republicans Eye Monday or Tuesday Floor Vote on Kavanaugh
Schedule assumes Judiciary Committee hearing, markup does not alter GOP plans

Senate Republican leaders want to schedule a floor vote for Monday or Tuesday on the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court “unless something derailed it along the way,” according to Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune of South Dakota. 

Thune told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday that if all goes according to plan, Republicans could get the procedural gears turning over the weekend. That assumes Thursday’s hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee featuring Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexual assault, does not alter the current trajectory that Senate GOP leaders have set.