Election 2008 What is at Stake

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Election 2008 What is at Stake Powered By Docstoc
					Monday, February 11, 2008

Exclusive articles on state policy, politics and trends from the staff of

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super-duper Tuesday: What's at stake
By staff

  Who's backing whom

Click here to read about all the state officials' endorsements
 On the ballot in California
Californians Feb. 5 will take up seven ballot measures, four of them dealing with gambling pacts.

The measures would:

  Prevent the state from using gasoline tax revenue for non-transportation projects. Even proponents of the
measure say it is no longer needed since voters passed a similar initiative in 2006. Increase state funding for
community colleges while lowering students’ fees. Reduce to 12 years from 14 years the time one can serve
in the state Legislature; Repeal deals Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) negotiated with four
American Indian tribes that would pay the state more than $130 million each year. Each pact is addressed in a
separate measure. Read Florida launches 2008 ballot question season for more information on this season's
state ballot initiatives. Possible Election day glitches
New voter ID requirements may cause glitches at the polls in Georgia while the limited use of electronic voting
machines may cause confusion and delay results in California.

  Justices question timing of voter ID challenge Partisan colors fly in voter ID case Are states ready for the
2008 election? Are you a citizen? Prove it     States in play

Click here to see the entire 2004 and 2008 presidential primaries and caucuses schedule. (Opens a PDF)
Feb. 5 voting
  Six states hold “closed” primaries — Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Oklahoma and Utah. Some
4.5 million independent voters – 2.4 million in New York alone – can’t vote because they aren’t registered party

 Five states hold “open” primaries — Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri and Tennessee. Voters can
choose to cast a ballot in either primary.

  Four states have “semi-open primaries” — California, Illinois, Massachusetts and New Jersey. Generally
independents can vote for either party, although in some states, they must register with the party on Election

 Nine states have party caucuses or conventions — Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana,
New Mexico, North Dakota and West Virginia.

Read Independent voters may be vexed at polls for more information about "open" and "closed" primaries.

    Super-duper Tuesday news:
 MO: In Missouri, GOP volunteers are on their own NY: Giant turnout on primary day CA: Four Calif. ballot
measures expand Indian gaming FL: Ex-Civil Rights Commission head asks DNC to settle delegate fight CA:
20 Calif. counties scrap electronic vote machines MA: Endorsement put spotlight on State House, governor
MN: Super Tuesday weather could snarl vote        More stories:
 Governors line up behind candidates States share national Spotlight in 2008 22 govs weigh in on presidential
race Voting for prez primary in December? State elections officials steer neutral in 2008 Arizona mulls primary
move 2008 may come down to Ohio — again (commentary) 2008 primary schedule Govs start to back 2008
candidates Florida shakes up presidential primary
 South Dakota poised to be last in '08 primary schedule

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Bush skirts Congress with Medicaid cuts
By Daniel C. Vock, Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Unified School District
Changes sought by the Bush administration could cut federal funding for school districts that transport disabled
students and others with medical needs to school.Isabel Perez, a certified nurse assistant living in Los

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Angeles, could barely understand her 7-year-old daughter, Kelly, when she spoke. Kelly’s grades suffered and
her classmates rarely talked to her.

But every time Perez took her daughter to the doctor to treat Kelly’s ear infections, the doctor told her the
infections were normal.

It was only when Perez took Kelly to the school-based health clinic two years ago that she could get a referral
to a specialist, who told her Kelly needed surgery immediately. After the surgery and speech therapy at the
clinic, Kelly’s speech and grades improved. Perez gives all the credit to the Columbus School-Based Clinic in
the San Fernando Valley.

But officials with the Los Angeles Unified School District worry that looming federal budget cuts will jeopardize
school-based clinics such as Columbus.

While the Bush administration presses Congress to curb spending on entitlement programs such as Medicare,
Social Security and Medicaid, it is also aggressively pursuing regulation changes without input from Congress
that would further cut funding to these programs.

In many cases, the cost of covering these funding cuts would be passed along to someplace else — like
schools, hospitals or states — or services to the poor and disabled may be cut.

That’s especially true for Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health insurance for 59 million poor
Americans. The administration is pushing more than half a dozen new sets of rules to limit Medicaid spending.

One of the most controversial is an informal policy announced in August by the Centers for Medicare and
Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers the Medicaid program. The new policy limits states’ ability to
make more families eligible for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which provides health
insurance to families whose higher income disqualifies them from Medicaid.

Dennis Smith, director of the federal Center for Medicaid and State Operations, told state officials in a letter
that they will now have to prove they are covering 95 percent of kids living below 250 percent of the federal
poverty level before states can offer coverage to families earning modest, but higher incomes.

The administration followed that letter with a September denial of a New York plan to let families making up to
four times the federal poverty level ($82,600 for a family of four) participate in SCHIP.

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) responded by suing the administration, backed by the states of Arizona,
California, Illinois, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New Jersey and Washington.

Tensions between states and the federal government increased in December, when CMS rejected an Ohio

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plan to expand eligibility to its Medicaid program. Federal officials said Ohio should have asked for an SCHIP
expansion instead, even though that expansion would have cost the federal government more money.

CMS’ Acting Administrator Kerry Weems said Monday (Feb. 4) that the agency wants to ensure that states
focus on insuring the poorest families under Medicaid before asking for Medicaid expansions, mirroring its
policy on SCHIP. But, Weems said, the rejection of Ohio’s plan was not related to the new policy.

Ohio Medicaid Director John Corlett told the 95 percent coverage is “almost impossible to
achieve.” He said one of the best ways to enroll poorer people is to increase the income eligibility levels,
because more people would become aware that they qualify for help.

Other Bush administration changes, many of which have been temporarily blocked by Congress, deal with
seemingly arcane accounting rules within Medicaid, the nation’s largest health insurer. But in a program that’s
so big, even small changes can impact programs and set off alarm bells among health providers.

For example, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, a former Utah governor, decided that
Medicaid should no longer pay schools to transport special education students with intense medical needs to

His agency concluded that because school districts are required to bring all students to school anyway,
Medicaid shouldn’t pick up the expense for these students.

But school administrators point out that busing kids who need constant medical attention is far more expensive
than bringing healthy children to school. Because federal law requires schools to bring those students to their
facilities and to offer them medical care there, they argue that Medicaid also should cover their transportation

For example, Medicaid now pays the L.A. schools $2 million a year to help cover transportation costs of 7,000
Los Angeles public school students — or about 1 of every 100 pupils. These students arrive in customized
vans or buses, which are often outfitted with wheelchair lifts and strap-in seats. Many times, aides watch over
the students during their ride.

For many of those students, school days are spent receiving medical treatments. Students get occupational
and physical therapy. They may learn to drive a wheelchair, feed themselves or simply communicate using
facial expressions. Many require constant medical supervision, including students who are on oxygen, who are
epileptic or who are diabetic but can’t monitor their own insulin levels.

John DiCecco, director of the Los Angeles school district’s Medicaid programs, argues that the new restrictions
proposed by the Bush administration make little sense.

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Medicaid would still pick up the tab, for example, for taking the students from their home directly to the doctor’s
office — as long as the office isn’t on school grounds. One of the options L.A. schools is considering in
response to the rules is moving health providers off school property, he said.

In Colorado, the new policy would directly affect other programs. Schools there are required by state law to use
the transportation money on other health-related services as well, including paying for eyeglasses and dental
care, school nurses and supplies and mental health services, said Kim Erickson, who heads the Medicaid
department for Denver Public Schools.

“I think people don’t really understand that schools are a primary health care provider for our children,”
Erickson said. “Without these resources, it really is going to affect children and parents in being able to get the
services they need.”

Schools could also bear the brunt of a change in rules that would slash significantly what they could recoup
from Medicaid for administrative expenses for health-related programs.

Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Unified School District
Los Angeles public school officials worry that new Medicaid changes would limit their ability to provide services
such as mobile asthma clinics, such as the one pictured above. The cuts would target schools' administrative
activities, such as coordinating with outside providers.
The Los Angeles schools, for example, would lose between $6 million and $8 million a year they now get for
such activities, which include arranging for mobile asthma clinics to visit schools, signing up students and their
families for Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid program) and running school-based health clinics, such as the one
Isabel Perez visited with her daughter.

The Bush administration estimates that the belt-tightening for schools’ transportation and administration
expenses would save the federal government $635 million next year and $3.6 billion over five years.

Despite the large sums, the potential savings are less than two-tenths of 1 percent of Medicaid’s annual $330
billion price tag for states and the federal government.

Congress blocked those rules until at least June 30.

Still, there are several other changes either in effect or pending, including:

Cuts, which took effect Jan. 1, in how much states can tax hospitals to recoup federal matching funds. The
change is expected to save the federal government $85 million this year. Strict new rules lowering how much
public hospitals can bill Medicaid for services, a change that could save the federal government $120 million
this year and $3.87 billion over five years. Congress blocked those rules from taking effect until at least May
25. Limits, also delayed until June 30, on what types of rehabilitative services Medicaid will pay for. They would

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save the federal government $180 million this year and $2.2 billion over five years. Elimination of funding,
starting March 3, for many targeted case management services (coordinating the different types of care a
patient receives), a change that would save the federal government $1.28 billion over the next four years.
Erickson, from Colorado, questioned the wisdom and timing of the Bush administration proposals.

“We’re not saving any resources,” she said. “All we’re doing is pushing responsibility onto other agencies and
other programs and onto families and onto communities. It seems like it’s all coming all at once.”

Related stories:
Medicaid directors object to SCHIP rules
Govs and hospitals try to block Medicaid cuts

Contact Daniel C. Vock at

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Bush budget gives states little to cheer about
By Daniel C. Vock and Pamela M. Prah, Staff Writers

Reversing course from last year, the Bush administration announced Monday (Feb. 4) it plans to spend an
additional $19.7 billion over five years to see that more of America’s children have health insurance.

But the new budget proposed by the president would impose several new restrictions on the State Children’s
Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which currently covers 6 million Americans a year. That could mean
headaches for states that have aggressively used the program to provide subsidized health insurance to
middle-class families.

President Bush’s $3 trillion fiscal 2009 budget comes at a time when many states face a budget shortfall.
Unlike the federal government, states must balance their budgets each year.

Bush plans to ask Congress to limit SCHIP to families of four making less than $53,000 a year. His proposal
would grandfather in already-enrolled kids in families making more than that level, but states couldn’t sign up
anyone else beyond that level.

SCHIP was at the center of a fight between Bush and Congress last year. Congress, led by Democrats, twice
passed legislation that would have expanded SCHIP to 4 million new children and cost an additional $35 billion
over five years. Bush vetoed both efforts, saying the program only needed an extra $5 billion.

Eventually, both sides agreed to extend the program for another 18 months without any major expansions.

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Bush’s budget also calls for controversial changes in Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for
the poor. One would eliminate a requirement that drug companies sell their medicine to Medicaid at the
cheapest price on the market.

The budget includes $110 million to help states comply with the 2005 Real ID Act, which will cost an estimated
$4 billion to create tougher national standards for driver’s licenses. The president's proposal includes $50
million to develop an electronic information hub connecting databases of Social Security numbers, birth
records and immigration status, among others. Bush included no new money to help states with Real ID in last
year’s budget proposal.

Bush’s $59.2 billion proposal for education – nearly equaling the money spent last year – is unlikely to jump-
start talks on his stalled signature education initiative, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. NCLB was up for
renewal last year, but Bush and the Democratic-controlled Congress fought over several points, including
Congress’ contention that the president has not adequately funded the law.

Here are other elements of Bush’s budget proposal:

Education – $300 million for a new Pell Grants for Kids program that would let students at low-performing
schools attend another public or private school. U.S. House Education and Labor Committee Chairman
George Miller (D-Calif.) said Feb.4 that Congress has rejected past voucher programs and would reject this
one as well.

Energy – Aid to help states pay the heating bills of poor families would be cut 22 percent, from $2.57 billion to
$2 billion, under the president’s proposal. Congressional leaders are expected to push for more funds, as the
number of families receiving help under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program has increased
more than 25 percent over the last four years.

Immigration – $100 million to expand a federal database, called “E-Verify,” that allows employers to check the
legal status of their employees, a $40 million increase. At least eight states require state contractors to consult
the database, which is now being used by 50,000 firms nationwide. More than 100,000 firms are expected to
use the database by year’s end, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Monday.

Transportation – To fill a $3.2 billion gap in highway funding, Bush wants to borrow money from a mass transit
account that is projected to have a $4.4 billion surplus. The highway trust fund, which pays for about 45
percent of the nation’s road-building, comes almost entirely from the federal tax of 18.3 cents on each gallon of
gas. But the tax has not been raised since 1993, and spending from the trust fund is expected to surpass
revenues next year.

Welfare – Child-care assistance for poor families would be frozen for the seventh consecutive year. The
administration says the 2009 funding level would cover 200,000 fewer children than in 2007.

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Justice - Angering state and local law enforcement officials, Bush did not propose any funding for the popular
Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program. The grants, which help states and cities pay for
anti-crime initiatives such as drug task forces and police overtime, are allocated based on population figures
and crime rates. staff writers John Gramlich, Eric Kelderman, Pauline Vu, Chris Vestal and interns Victoria
Ekstrom and Kim Mendelsohn contributed to this report.

See related stories:
Federal spending plan slashes anti-crime grants
State immigration laws face legal doubts
No Child law faces medley of changes
States feel the pinch of tight Bush budget

Contact Daniel C. Vock at

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Transportation Disputes: 300+ Days and Holding
By Neal Peirce, Special to

WASHINGTON -- Three hundred and how many more days until we get a new president?
     Two gross missteps by the Bush administration, this time tripping up badly needed national transportation
improvements, make the question acute.
     After two years of intense work, a broad-based, bipartisan federal transportation commission mandated
by Congress unveiled America’s first-ever, 50-year, balanced plan to repair and expand the highways, bridges,
ports and rail systems the country needs to prosper internally and globally.
     But because the report, released last month, pointed mostly to public funding instead of responding
directly to “consumer demand” (meaning private financing), Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters and the
two other Bush administration appointees dissented, bemoaning the 12-member panel’s failure to “reach
     An industry analyst quoted by the National Corridors Initiative called their “consensus” remark “frankly
pathetic,” noting that “a very bipartisan commission ... has called for a major overhaul of the transportation
system, and for the money to do the job.”
     Others observed that if the federal government had waited for private, toll-collecting investors to build a
national superhighway network, rather than President Eisenhower’s call for system constructed with an
overwhelming share of federal dollars, we’d have little more than a thin interstate patchwork today.

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       The transportation commissioners had the courage to say that upgrading and expanding U.S.
transportation systems to world standards won’t come cheaply -- they estimated $225 billion annually for the
next 50 years. And they saw past “roads only,” focusing on an expanded freight system as well as repairing
our highways and bridges, and making transit and intercity passenger rail a new priority in an ever-more
metropolitan nation.
       While endorsing more private investment, the commission faced the necessity of a dramatic rise in the
federal gas tax, to 40 cents a gallon, indexed to inflation. And it sought accountability by combining today’s
108 federal transportation funding lines (for transit, highways, railroads, etc.) into 10 goal-oriented programs
such as “Congestion Relief,” “Energy Security” and “Saving Lives.” The system would be performance-driven,
outcome-based, mode-neutral -- a far call from today’s morass of earmarked transportation projects and
billions flowing to states for still more highways.
       There are some weaknesses in the report, especially failure to deal with three major issues -- how
transportation choices impact climate change, how they relate to land use, and considerations of equity for
Americans ill-served by today’s system.
       But by throwing light on how our federal transportation program is a fundamentally broken system of
earmarks and untargeted grants, notes Brookings Institution transportation expert Robert Puentes, the report
undergirds growing congressional consensus that a new approach is imperative and should be built into the
2009 transportation reauthorization.
       Making another damaging move during the 300-plus days it has left, the Bush administration, in a surprise
move, also appears ready to scuttle the long-awaited Metro rail connection from to Washington’s Dulles
International Airport in Northern Virginia.
       Political and business leaders in Virginia were stunned when Peters and Federal Transit Administration
chief James S. Simpson suddenly raised enough purported weaknesses in the project -- now on the brink of
start-up construction -- to justify vetoing the long-expected and critically needed $900 million federal
       Efforts to build the Dulles line date back to the 1960s. The service would ease congestion in Virginia’s
biggest job corridor, with anticipated big spinoff benefits in clustered affordable housing, cutting serious air
pollution levels, and providing an emergency evacuation route west from the capital.
       In today’s world of major global citistates, jockeying for mobility and economic prowess, the Dulles rail
extension should be a no-brainer -- notwithstanding its eventual $5 billion pricetag. As the Washington Post
noted editorially, airports in Chicago, Hong Kong, London, Tokyo and Sydney are all rail connected; should
America’s capital city settle for anything less?
       John W. Warner, Virginia’s senior and now retiring U.S. Senator, a long-time supporter, was described as
“livid” at the meeting where Peters and Simpson dropped their threatened veto bomb. The administration is
now promising a “cooling off” period to reexamine the issue, but there’s little confidence it will change its mind.
Assuming it doesn’t, Congress may have to override its veto of the Dulles line, for common sense and in honor
of the highly respected Warner.
       The threatened Dulles line veto is “classic federal hubris,” notes Thomas Downs, transportation expert
and former Amtrak president. While the federal $900 million contribution is critical, it’s less than 20 percent of
the line’s cost, he observed, asking: should federal bureaucrats “trump all local decision making? Is that what

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this Republican administration has come to?”
      At the end of the day, shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Check most members of either party, and they want
a strong, economically efficient transportation system. This country is behind, we have lots of catching-up to
do. We can’t let ideology trip us up. That’s reality the next president -- he or she, Republican or Democrat --
will have to deal with.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Commentary: Govs beat White House hopefuls as agents of
By Gene Gibbons, Executive Editor

It’s a wonder how long it took some of the presidential candidates to realize voters are sick and tired of
Washington DC’s dawdling on a variety of issues that affect our lives. Even Republican White House hopefuls
have grasped the unrest and are echoing Democrat Barack Obama’s promise of “change.”

 If the candidates had been listening more carefully, they might have gotten it a lot sooner. The evidence was
there all along in the way many states, led by innovative governors, are moving forward on issues like health
care, immigration and global warming.

The pragmatic problem-solving going on in many of the 50 state capitols is a refreshing change from the
exasperating dysfunction of the federal government.

Proactive governors, such as California Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, could not have moved so
aggressively without the implicit support of their constituents. The actor-turned-governor earned his nickname,
“the Governator,” by plunging headlong into some of his state’s most difficult problems.

Schwarzenegger is still pushing a plan to provide near-universal health care that could become a model for the
nation despite a major setback last month in the California Senate. He’s pushing innovative education
initiatives. He even cut a deal with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on global warming – all this as
federal politicians and policymakers remain mired in partisan bickering.

What’s most remarkable is that Schwarzenegger is far from unique. Many governors, notably including those in
Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine, are leading their states to find practical solutions to critical problems such
as how to fix a health care system that is too costly and leaves people out. They’re doing it by forging
bipartisan alliances in their state legislatures.

As Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas put it: “There really aren’t ‘red’ and ’blue’ states but
American states, and people want leaders they can trust, who they share vision and values (with).”

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Yes, there’s plenty of partisan bickering and political chicanery at the state level: a budget deadlock in
Michigan that briefly brought state government to a near standstill last year, the corruption scandal that
clouded the work of the Alaska Legislature and the political skullduggery that seems endemic in states like
Illinois, Pennsylvania and Texas are among examples.

But on the overarching public policy issues of our day – health care, the education of our children, global
warming, and, perhaps most remarkably, the care of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars – states are in
the vanguard.

Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine already are experimenting with making access to doctors and hospitals
more widely available and more financially sustainable. California wants to do so.

And the federal No Child Left Behind Act notwithstanding, it’s states that are innovating to elevate learning
standards with programs as fundamental as expanding pre-kindergarten education and as creative as linking
high school attendance to driving privileges.

California, the world’s 12th largest carbon emitter, is in the forefront in dealing with causes of climate change.
Schwarzenegger’s groundbreaking agreement with Blair last August to fight global warming was viewed as
part of a broader effort to circumvent federal objections to state regulation of greenhouse-gas emissions. It was
also widely interpreted as a slap at the Bush administration’s laissez-faire attitude toward what most reputable
scientists regard as the leading environmental challenge of the 21st century.

Most unusual from a historic standpoint is the states’ assertive role in aiding the nation’s returning warriors —
unusual but not surprising, given that state-based National Guard units are involved in combat at a level
unseen since World War II. Minnesota and Illinois are pioneering programs designed to help demobilized
service members make a sometimes difficult emotional transition to the less lethal vagaries of civilian life, but
they are just two of the dozens of states that have stepped up to meet what until this era has been largely a
federal responsibility.

In a recent column for, Raymond C. Scheppach, executive director of the National Governors
Association, said what’s happening in the states is a manifestation of the yin and yang of federalism.

 “Throughout our history there has been a federalism cycle, where at times governors and states have
provided national policy leadership, and at other times that leadership has come from the president and
Congress,” Scheppach wrote. “Underlying this cycle, however, was a clear trend in the 20th century toward
increased federal involvement in U.S. domestic policy. As we progress into the 21st century, several factors
suggest we may be coming full circle, with leadership on domestic issues swinging back to states.”

Maybe the hothouse atmosphere of national politics also has something to do with making states the place to

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look if you want to see government that works. It’s probably easier to get things done in an environment where
TV shout shows don’t dumb down profound discourse to sound bites, and where every Tom, Dick, Jane and
Harry isn’t running for president or positioning themselves for the next race.

Editor's Note: This column was published simultaneously by The Politico (, a print and
Internet-based news publication that covers Capitol Hill and national politics.

This column was published simultaneously by The Politico.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

What happened on Super-duper Tuesday?
  AL: Obama, Huckabee win Alabama's primaries
By Charles J. Dean and Tom Gordon, The Birmingham News
Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mike Huckabee won their parties' presidential primaries in Alabama
Tuesday on a day that saw voters turn out in historic numbers to cast ballots.
Read More

AK: Alaskans statewide have their say
 By Don Hunter, Sean Cockerham and Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News (registration)
For the first time in a long time -- maybe for the first time ever -- Alaska got a chance on Tuesday to get in the
game while it still mattered in a presidential primary. Read More

AR: Huckabee, Clinton win Arkansas
By John Lyon, Arkansas News Bureau
"Mike is back!" Mike Huckabee supporters chanted at his primary watch party Tuesday night, after a day that
saw the former Arkansas governor capture his home state and at least four others in his re-emergence as a
contender for the Republican presidential nomination.
Read More

AZ: For some Arizona voters, an exercise in frustration
 By Daniel Gonz?lez, Shaun McKinnon and Anne Ryman, The Arizona Republic (Phoenix)
Super Tuesday turned into super confusion and super frustration for many voters participating in Arizona's
presidential primary. Read More

CA: Voters rejecting Prop. 93 on term limits
By Tom Chorneau, San Francisco Chronicle

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California voters were rejecting a ballot measure to cut the time lawmakers could serve in the Legislature by
two years but give current incumbents a windfall term extension, according to early returns. Read More

CA: Analysis - California picks up clout by moving up primary
 By Amy Chance, The Sacramento Bee (registration)
Californians capped off Super Tuesday with a legitimate claim that their presidential primary votes mattered for
the first time in decades. Read More

CO: Romney, Obama win Colorado
By Lynn Bartels and Todd Hartman, Rocky Mountain News (Denver)
Colorado caucus-goers turned out in staggering numbers Tuesday, crowding elbow-to-elbow in schools,
churches and libraries to deliver victories for Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Barack Obama.
Read More

CT: In The End, Connecticut Goes With Obama; McCain Wins
By Ted Mann, The Day (New London)
"It's still 50-48," a woman called, and Carmen Rodriguez leaned forward in the din, mouthing the word: "Who?"
Read More

ID: Idaho Democrats turn out in record numbers to pick Obama
By John Miller, The Associated Press, The Idaho Statesman (Boise)
Idaho Democrats turned out in record numbers Tuesday night to deliver an overwhelming caucus victory for
Barack Obama, rewarding the first-term senator from Illinois for his visit to the state last Saturday.
Read More

IL: Early Illinois primary delivers intended result
By Bernard Schoenburg, The State Journal-Register (Springfield)
Illinois handed its favorite son an expected but big victory Tuesday, as the state played a part in an important
day in a presidential race for the first time in years.
Read More

IL: Jones' key allies overcome challenges
By Ray Long and Jeffrey Meitrodt, Chicago Tribune (registration) Two members of Senate President Emil
Jones' leadership team survived fierce battles Tuesday to hang onto their seats, and a South Side House
incumbent lost in a high-profile power struggle. Read More

GA: How Obama, Huckabee won Georgia
By Aaron Gould Sheinin, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (registration)
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, dismissed just in the past week as an also-ran in Georgia and in the
race for the Republican nomination, won this state Tuesday and kept his campaign alive for the nomination.

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Read More

KS: Kansans experience nitty-gritty of politics
 By James Carlson, The Topeka Capital-Journal
It was caucusing, Kansas style. More than 2,200 people herded into a dirt-covered pavilion at the Douglas
County Fairgrounds on Tuesday night to voice their opinion for the Democratic presidential nominee. Read

MA: Decisive victories in Mass.
 By Frank Phillips and Matt Viser, The Boston Globe (registration)
Hillary Clinton withstood a string of high-profile endorsements for Barack Obama to glide to a surprisingly
decisive victory, while Mitt Romney held onto his Republican base to handily beat John McCain yesterday, in
the most competitive and meaningful Massachusetts presidential primary in memory. Read More

MN: Packed state caucuses go for Obama, Romney
By Patricia Lopez and Bob Von Sternberg, Minneapolis Star Tribune (registration)
Schoolrooms, community centers and libraries across Minnesota filled to bursting Tuesday night as
Minnesotans poured out in record-setting numbers for precinct caucuses that put the state in the thick of a full-
throttle presidential contest.
Read More

MO: Republicans hold onto St. Charles House seat
 By Mark Schlinkmann and Tim Bryant, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Republican Mark Parkinson, a former aide to Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, won on Tuesday the Missouri House
seat vacated last summer by longtime state Rep. Carl Bearden. Read More

MT: Mitt wins Montana
By Charles S. Johnson, Billings Gazette
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney pulled off a decisive victory in Montana's winner-take-all Republican
presidential caucus Tuesday night, with Rep. Ron Paul edging Sen. John McCain for second place.
Read More

NJ: Jersey's bottom line -- Clinton and McCain in a record turnout
By Deborah Howlett, The Star-Ledger (Newark)
New York Sen. Hillary Clinton withstood a furious, final-days challenge from Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in her
own backyard to win the Democratic primary in New Jersey yesterday amid a record-shattering turnout by
Read More

NJ: New York state sides with party favorites

                                                    Page 14
By Irene Jay Liu, Times Union (Albany)
NEW YORK -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was poised Tuesday night to take the lion's share of Democratic
delegates in her home state, while Sen. John McCain handily captured the 101 Republican delegates in the
GOP's winner-take-all contest.
Read More

ND: Voter enthusiasm widespread in Minn., N.D.
By Benny Polacca, The Forum (Fargo)
Turnout was the story of the day at Minnesota and North Dakota Democratic and Republican caucus sites
Tuesday. The flood of voters at Minnesota Democratic caucuses was ?unprecedented,? DFL Party Chairman
Brian Melendez said.
Read More

OK: Clinton and McCain win big
By Staff, Tulsa Today
U.S. Sen. John McCain and U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton gained significant victories in primaries
throughout the nation including Oklahoma in Tuesday night's "Super Tuesday" battles.
Read More

TN: Polls flooded but no major problems
By Deborah Hastings, The Associated Press, Contra Costa Times (registration)
The biggest-ever Super Tuesday in American history caused extraordinary voter interest, but apparently no
major problems. Read More

UT: Utahns rally for Romney, give Obama edge
By Bob Bernick Jr., Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)An excited group of Utahns went to the presidential
primary polls Tuesday and gave Republican Mitt Romney an overwhelming win and Democrat Barack Obama
a solid but not-record-setting victory, unofficial results show. Read More

WV: Huckabee victorious in West Virginia
By Tom Searls, Charleston Gazette (registration)
In a move to deny former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney a victory Tuesday, supporters of U.S. Sen. John
McCain put their support behind former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, giving Huckabee 18 of the state's
delegates to the GOP national convention.
Read More

   WI: Clinton, Obama get set to fight for Wisconsin
By Mark Pitsch, Wisconsin State Journal (Madison)
A month ago, many observers thought Wisconsin's Feb. 19 presidential primary would feature a more hotly
contested Republican race than its Democratic counterpart. After Super Tuesday's results, the opposite could

                                                  Page 15
very well be true.
Read More

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Governors' military powers debated
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer

Photo by Susan Walsh, The Associated Press

Visiting New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, President Bush meets with (from left) White House Chief
of Staff Andrew Card, Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Gov.
Kathleen Blanco. A congressionally chartered commission last week recommended that governors gain
authority over all military forces in their states — not just the National Guard — during disasters like Katrina.
Should governors gain authority over all U.S. military forces in their states — not just National Guard troops —
during terrorist attacks, hurricanes and other domestic disasters?

A congressionally chartered commission last week recommended just that, expressing “great confidence in our

While some say it’s a good move, Pentagon officials have assailed the proposal, claiming it violates the
Constitution, undermines presidential power and “invites confusion” over military command during
emergencies. The National Governors Association (NGA) isn’t sure whether to back the plan, and the
commission itself anticipates resistance.

Debate over the recommendation — and 94 others included in a Jan. 31 report by the Commission on the
National Guard and Reserves — continues today (Feb. 7), when the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee
questions commission members about the study. Congress created the 12-member panel in 2005 to examine
the challenges facing the nation’s military reserves as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan continue; more than
600,000 National Guard members and reservists have served in the two wars.

In its report, released after nearly two years of information-gathering, the commission found that reserve
components are unprepared and under-equipped to confront major security threats at home, in large measure
because of overseas deployments that consume manpower and equipment.

The commission offered broad proposals to improve the way the reserves operate, including using state-run

                                                    Page 16
National Guard troops exclusively to respond to domestic crises, such as the deadly tornadoes that tore
through southern states this week.

Among the most striking recommendations made by the commission is its proposal to hand governors control
over active-duty troops, such as disaster response teams from the U.S. Army or Air Force, in the immediate
aftermath of a catastrophe. Governors now command state National Guard units during crises on American
soil, but the president remains commander in chief of active-duty forces.

That division of power “places the nation at risk of a disjointed federal and state military response to a
catastrophe,” the report concluded.

“We have great confidence in our governors,” said Arnold L. Punaro, a retired Marine major general and
chairman of the commission. The report said governors already have responsibilities over the National Guard
and should be trusted with authority over active-duty forces as well.

Pentagon officials attacked the proposal — and many others outlined in the report — by saying it would create
new problems instead of solving existing ones.

“The proposal of the Punaro commission is simply at odds with the theory of a federal system of government,”
said Paul McHale, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and Americas’ security. “It is at odds
with Article II of the Constitution. There can be only one commander in chief, and that is the president of the
United States. To decentralize that command and control to 50 separate state governors invites confusion.”

The commission maintains the change is “fully consistent with law and precedent.” Active-duty troops, for
example, are routinely placed under the control of foreign commanders in military alliances such as NATO,
according to the commission.

Expanding governors’ military powers would not require an act of Congress and could be accomplished by the
Department of Defense in coordination with states, according to the report.

Wade Rowley, a commission member, acknowledged that the panel’s recommendation to give governors
control over active components would be met with significant “pushback.”

                                                     Page 17
But Rowley emphasized that, under the commission’s model, specific plans for dealing with disasters would be
pre-negotiated between governors and the federal government, ensuring more efficient responses to
catastrophes. A former member of the California Army National Guard, Rowley said a lack of coordination
between state and federal authorities complicated responses to the Los Angeles riots of 1992, which he

In 2005, then-Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D) clashed with federal authorities over how to respond to
devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, including over how to use the military to help residents.

“That’s one of the problems we have now: Everybody shows up and everybody’s in charge,” Rowley said.

At least two governors, Democrats Ruth Ann Minner of Delaware and Mike Easley of North Carolina,
discussed the recommendation last year with Punaro, according to Kate Finnerty, Minner’s representative in
Washington, D.C. Both supported gaining control over active-duty forces during emergencies, Finnerty said —
though she stressed that the proposal originally came from Punaro.

Minner was “very supportive of being able to utilize her role as (state) commander in chief and taking
responsibility for Delawareans,” Finnerty said.

Nolan Jones, the NGA’s deputy director of federal relations, said the group — which lobbies the federal
government for policies helpful to states — has not yet decided whether to support the plan.

“I don’t know whether we will or not,” Jones said. “It’s something we haven’t decided on yet.”

President Bush last week signed into law the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, which returns to
governors the exclusive power to call up National Guard troops during most domestic disasters. Congress
stripped governors of that authority in 2006 — largely in response to the handling of Hurricane Katrina — but
restored it after heavy lobbying by the NGA late last year.

Related stories:

Govs may regain sole control over Guard

                                                   Page 18
Governors lose in power struggle over Guard

Contact John Gramlich at

Friday, February 8, 2008

Will govs lose edge in presidential races?
By Pamela M. Prah, Staff Writer

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s exit on Thursday (Feb. 7) from the 2008 race for the Republican
presidential nomination vastly increases the odds that the next occupant of the White House will come from the
U.S. Senate — not from a governor’s mansion.

The absence of a governor in the top tier of presidential contenders is rare in recent years. Four of the last five
presidents were governors first, and 17 of 43 presidents were governors.

 Governors turned vice presidents
Eleven governors went on to serve as U.S. vice president.

Vice presidentState governed
Thomas JeffersonVirginia

Elbridge GerryMassachusetts
Daniel D TompkinsNew York
Martin Van BurenNew York
Hannibal HamlinMaine
Thomas A. HendricksIndiana
Theodore RooseveltNew York
Thomas R. MarshallIndiana
Calvin CooldigeMassachusetts

                                                     Page 19
Spiro AgnewMaryland
Nelson A. RockefellerNew York

Source: National Governors AssociationFormer Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is still in the
Republican presidential hunt. But with fewer than 200 delegates after Super Tuesday, it will be an uphill battle
for Huckabee to overtake the frontrunner, U.S. Sen. John McCain. He already has more than 700 delegates
out of 1,191 needed to win the party's nomination at this summer's convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.

Political circles already are buzzing with speculation that Huckabee would be a good No. 2 on the GOP ticket,
making up what McCain lacks in appeal with conservative Republicans and Southern voters. If that happens,
Huckabee would be in contention to join 11 other governors who became vice presidents, starting with Thomas
Jefferson, the Virginia governor who went on to serve as vice president in 1797 and president in 1801.

History shows governors have a better track record than U.S. senators of winning the presidency. But
Romney's departure increased the likelihood that for only the third time in history, a sitting U.S. senator would
move from Capitol Hill to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

While McCain leads the GOP primary race, two sitting U.S. senators — Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack
Obama of Illlinois — are essentially in a dead heat for the Democratic nomination with each winning some
1,000 delegates. A Democrat needs 2,025 delegates to win the nomination at the convention in Denver.

 Governors turned presidents
Seventeen governors went on to serve as U.S. president. Four of the last five presidents had been governors.

PresidentState governed
Thomas JeffersonVirginia
James MonroeVirginia
Martin Van BurenNew York
John Tyler Jr.Virginia
James K. PolkTennessee
Andrew JohnsonTennessee

                                                    Page 20
Rutherford B. HayesOhio
22nd, 24th
Grover ClevelandNew York
William McKinley Jr.Ohio
Theodore RooseveltNew York
Woodrow WilsonNew Jersey
Calvin CooldigeMassachusetts
Franklin D. RooseveltNew York
Jimmy Carter Jr.Georgia
Ronald ReaganCalifornia
Bill ClintonArkansas
George W. BushTexas

Source: National Governors Association, reportingNew Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) was the
only sitting governor in the presidential race, but he bowed out Jan. 10 after fourth-place finishes in both the
Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.

Historically, governors’ experience running a state government, balancing a budget and making executive
decisions have given them an edge in seeking the nation's highest office.

During the Jan. 30 CNN GOP presidential debate, Huckabee summed up his gubernatorial experience this
way: “I’ve actually managed a government for 10 and a half years. … Washington doesn't understand how
states operate, but states understand how Washington operates.”

Taking aim at his senatorial opponents, Huckabee said senators “have the luxury of picking out particular
issues that they can specialize in. Governors don't get to specialize. They have to be able to handle on any
given day several dozen different issues and see how they integrate together for a strong economy, a strong
sense of security. And that's how it works.”

                                                    Page 21
Only two sitting U.S. senators moved directly from the U.S. Capitol to the White House — Warren G. Harding
in 1921 and John F. Kennedy in 1961, while seven governors went straight from being head of a state to head
of the United States. The success rate is better for senators who leave office, then run for the White House,
such as Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, who went from the U.S Senate to the vice presidency then the

Overall, 17 governors went on to serve as U.S. president compared to 15 U.S. senators.

In this election, the early campaigns drew heavily from the U.S. Senate. For the Democrats, that included
Sens. John Edwards (N.C.), Joe Biden (Delaware) and Christopher Dodd (Conn.). The Republican pack
included Sens. Fred Thompson (Tenn.) and Sam Brownback (Kansas). All have dropped out. U.S. Rep. Ron
Paul (R-Texas) is still in the GOP primary race.

Usually, senators' extensive voting records have been liabilities in presidential races. This year, “the senators
have done a better job doing to governors what has been done to them,” said Julian E. Zelizer, a history
professor at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, meaning that senators have used inconsistencies
in governors’ own records against them. “That’s what happened to Romney. He became the flip-flopper,” he
said. On top of that, the importance that voters give to national security issues in 2008 gives senators, not
governors, an advantage because those decisions are made in Washington, D.C., he said.

Finally, Zelizer said, this election is different because of the presence of “celebrity senators,” who were well-
known before the campaign started.

If a senator wins the White House this year, regardless of party, it could serve as a blueprint for others in future
presidential bids and “could counteract some of the bad experiences senators have had,” Zelizer said.

Larry J. Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, cautioned against reading too
much into the current dynamics. “Look over time and ask what kind of person do Americans prefer in the Oval
Office. Naturally they prefer an executive. But circumstances don’t always allow them to vote for an executive.”
He added, “There is no trend" away from voters wanting executive experience. This year, "it’s pure
happenstance” that senators are besting governors in the race for president. staff writer Daniel C. Vock and intern Victoria Ekstrom contributed to this report.

Contact Pamela M. Prah at

See related stories:
Super-duper Tuesday: What's at stake
Independent voters may be vexed at polls
Governors line up behind candidates

                                                     Page 22
States share national spotlight in 2008

Friday, February 8, 2008

WORTH NOTING: Fat folks uninvited
By Christine Vestal, Staff Writer

Lawmakers in Mississippi – the fattest state in the nation – propose banning restaurants from serving obese
customers. Republican state Rep. John Read, one of the bill’s sponsors, said he never expected the proposal
to become law. "I was trying to shed a little light on the No. 1 problem in Mississippi," The Associated Press in
Jackson, Miss. reported him saying. Riverside, Calif., voters approved a measure on the Super Tuesday ballot
to reduce the number of roosters a resident can own from 50 to seven and require owners to confine their birds
in a sound-muffling "acoustical structure" at least 100 feet from neighbors from sunrise to sunset, National
Public Radio reports.

Two Florida lawmakers want to charge strip-club patrons an extra dollar per visit to put a little extra cash in the
hands of low-income nursing home residents for personal needs such as haircuts, clothing and movie tickets,
according to the St. Petersburg Times. Whether it’s legal to single out the adult entertainment industry to
generate new state revenues already is under court review in Texas, which imposed a $5 tax on strip-club
customers to create a fund for rape victims, the Times reports.

The Texas Department of Transportation admitted to a whopper of an accounting error. The agency double-
counted $1.1 billion in revenue, causing the state to overcommit to new road projects last year and leading to a
cash crunch, The Austin American-Statesman reports. Transportation officials said the mistake was
inadvertent, but some lawmakers suggested the cash-flow problems conveniently manufactured a crisis that
bolstered the state’s case for privatizing the Texas highway system.
They won’t get a lump of coal for Valentine’s Day, but Republican Govs. Jon Huntsman Jr. of Utah and Jim
Gibbons of Nevada can expect a heart-shaped message from environmentalists urging them to “love your air”
and vote against a proposed new coal-fired power plant, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Millions of Americans in 24 states went to the polls on Super Tuesday (Feb. 5), but The Washington Post
reports hundreds more tried to vote in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, where primaries aren’t
scheduled until Feb. 12. Thousands of eager voters in Texas, which has a March 4 primary, also called
election officials trying to locate their polling places, The Dallas Morning News reports. But most disappointed
were Johnny-come-lately voters in Florida who tried to cast ballots on Super Tuesday (Feb. 5) in Florida’s Jan.
29 primary, The Orlando Sentinel reports.

Contact Christine Vestal at

                                                     Page 23
Monday, February 11, 2008

U.S. bill specifies state higher ed spending
By Pauline Vu, Staff Writer

New legislation being considered by Congress would force states to spend a minimum amount on higher
education based on their past spending — or lose some federal funds. The provision is being called a
“dangerous precedent” by critics, but is seen by supporters as a stopgap for rising tuition at public institutions.

“One of the biggest factors driving tuition increases at public colleges and universities is states’ cutbacks in
higher education funding,” said Rachel Racusen, a spokeswoman for House Education and Labor Committee
Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.), the bill’s primary sponsor.

“With the federal government putting money in at the top, it’s important that states not take money out at the
bottom,” she wrote in an e-mail.

The provision, part of the College Opportunity and Affordability Act, would require each state’s higher
education funding to be at or above the average it spent over the last five years. If states don’t commit that
amount, they could lose their share of federal money from the $65 million Leveraging Educational Assistance
Partnership grant program to help low-income students.

The act, which moved one step closer to giving higher education its most significant overhaul in a decade
when the U.S. House passed it on a 354-58 vote Thursday (Feb. 7), boosts grant money for college students
and aims to hold down the cost of tuition.

The bill is a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965 — last renewed in 1998 — and would increase
the maximum Pell Grant, a need-based award for college students, from $5,800 to $9,000; bar lenders from
giving perks to colleges to get on a “preferred lender” list; create a “higher education price index” to allow
students to see how much tuition has increased over time; and place colleges that radically increase tuition on
a “watch list.”

The bill also includes provisions to lower textbook costs by requiring publishers to disclose the cost of the
books when marketing them to faculty, and to stop bundling books with supplemental items such as DVDs and
workbooks, which drives up the price.

The Senate passed a similar bill 95-0 in July, though their version doesn't include the state-funding provision.

The Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), which represents more than 400 public
institutions, backs the state-spending clause.

                                                     Page 24
“This really is the first time in which the federal government has recognized that the states play the critical role
in making college affordable,” said Dan Hurley, AASCU’s director of state relations. “Higher education in
American is primarily a state responsibility, and in the last five years, states have at times absolved themselves
of their responsibility.”

Over the last decade, tuition at public four-year universities has increased an average 4.4 percent each year
after inflation, according to the College Board, and Congress blames the rise partly on states cutting higher
education money in years when revenues are low.

The federal government says it is doing its part to help. In September, President Bush signed a bill to provide
$20 billion in student loans over the next five years, the largest single boost to college financial aid since the GI
Bill in 1944.

But critics contend that the provision in the new bill is not a good idea.

“Once again the federal government is saying that they’re the ones that have the most expertise to run
education in individual states,” said North Dakota state Rep. Rae Ann Kelsch (R), the chair of the National
Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) education standing committee. “The provision would set a
dangerous precedent for the federal intrusion into state policy and the appropriation authority. That’s an issue
that we as legislators pride ourselves in.”

State officials say one consequence of the requirement would be that in good budget years, legislatures would
no longer be generous with higher education money, fearful that if a tough budget year follows they would be
forced to spend more than they can afford.

“There’s going to be a lot of hesitancy on the part of appropriators to hold back on increases because it
ratchets up the new baselines for the following years,” said David Shreve, NCSL’s federal affairs counsel

State higher-education funding usually benefits from a sharp uptick in good budget years. According to the
National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), during the economic slowdown of 2002, states
increased higher-education money only 1.8 percent, but between 2006 and 2007, when state coffers
overflowed, the group projected that states increased college and university spending 9.3 percent. During that
same period, NASBO estimated that federal support actually fell 8.1 percent.

Unlike the federal government, 49 states are required to balance their budgets.

Miller’s aide Racusen points out, however, that the bill would allow the funding clause to be waived if the U.S.
Secretary of Education determines there are “exceptional or uncontrollable circumstances,” such as a natural
disaster or a sudden decline in states’ financial resources, but state officials said they would resent having to

                                                      Page 25
ask for the secretary’s approval.

NCSL and the National Governors Association plan to fight the provision as the House and Senate negotiate
the bill in conference committee. NCSL also has been asking state legislators across the country to contact
their Congressional representatives to remove the funding requirement.

Contact Pauline Vu at

Related stories:

States, colleges work to cut textbook costs

Tuition hikes smaller than in past years

State surpluses a boon to education

Since 2000, college tuition up 40%

Public colleges face rising demand, reduced support

                                                  Page 26

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