Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Political Update - By Mark R. Kerr

As previously reported, H.R. 1913, the “Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009,” which if approved, would expand current federal statutes on hate crimes to include sexual orientation or gender identity, perceived or otherwise, had been introduced in this Congress and assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.

The House Judiciary Committee has “marked up” H.R. 1913 and was voted on by the full committee, giving the measure its first legislative victory. . . .

Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, in the wake of the Vermont’s Legislature approving the recognition of same-sex marriages and the Iowa Supreme Court decision on the same matter, efforts are ongoing to repeal sections of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prohibit the federal legal and governmental recognition of such committed relationships.

According to accounts, a handful of congressional leaders have been hashing out the details of the legislation, which would accomplish two goals: repeal section 3 of DOMA as it relates to the federal government's ability to confer some 1,100 federal benefits on same-sex partners; and provide a way for same-sex couples living in states that do not allow them to marry legally to access the same federal benefits afforded to heterosexual spouses. Section 2 of DOMA would remain in place, defining marriage as between a “man and a woman.” . .

U.S. Representative Jared Polis, D-CO, is considering drafting a federal omnibus measure that would deal with many issues of concern to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community.

In interviews, Representative Polis, one of three openly LGBT members of the U.S. House of Representatives, said his proposed legislation could cover areas dealing with hate crimes, “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and employment non-discrimination, to name three potential topics of his measure. . . .

Back in the Grand Canyon State, Arizona’s accidental Governor Jan Brewer, this past week asked the federal government for funding . . . for the state’s failed abstinence program, to the tune of $1-million, despite the poor tracking record for the program, since in 2007, the most recent statistics available, there were 12,972 births to teen mothers, defined as 19 or younger. Of that total, nearly 87 percent of the teens were not married.

Wonderful, the accidental governor asks for money for “Just Say No, No, No,” but when it comes to the federal stimulus money, what has Jan done?

Nothing, since signing her “Super Bowl” budget, she hasn’t lifted a finger to get Arizona’s Legislature to change the funding and guideline rules for education and Arizona’s health care program which has put the state’s money, close to $800 million on hold because of the Republican’s screw up.

Speaking of screw-ups, this week, specifically Saturday, April 25, will mark the 100th day, the first session of the 49th Arizona Legislature will be operating - the usual date, the Republican leadership of each chamber has blathered on, time and time again, that they would have their “open and transparent” business completed.

As in time past, they haven’t, costing the taxpayers to the tune of $63,000 a day to operate, while the Republican’s play whose truck in bigger on non-issues dealing with state sovereignty, guns in bars and Rio Nuevo, in an effort to change the subject away from their incompetence.

So to hear those sweet words, “Sine Die,” will be such a welcome relief but it’s a tune that is far off the horizon, like the state’s recovery thanks to the elephantine efforts of the Arizona Republican Legislative Leadership.

For those conservative readers and money-grubbing fiends, how many of those individuals who support the concept of a flat-tax, actually follow through by using the federal and state EZ income tax forms?

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