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NY Governor looks to revoke utility’s license over imaginary natural gas

Westlake Legal Group Cuomo NY Governor looks to revoke utility’s license over imaginary natural gas utilities The Blog New York State New York City natural gas National Grid governor Andrew Cuomo

You may recall earlier this month when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo threatened utility company National Grid with massive fines if they didn’t start adding more natural gas hookups in New York City. This was done despite the fact that National Grid had told him that they no longer had an adequate supply of gas in their aging pipelines to provide service to more customers. This left everyone wondering what would happen during peak demand hours this winter when the temperatures dip into single digits.

In order to avoid the fines, the utility agreed to start adding more hookups, even though it might outstrip the supply. (That didnt’ stop the Governor from continuing to defy calls for the approval of a new pipeline to keep up with demand.) But even that concession apparently wasn’t enough for Cuomo. Now he wants the state’s public utilities regulator to look into the option of canceling National Grid’s license to operate. That’ll teach ’em a lesson, eh? (CBS New York)

Gov. Cuomo’s anger at National Grid has boiled over. In a stunning move, he ordered the state’s public utilities regulator to explore potential grounds for revoking the company’s license.

He also slammed his own agency, the Public Service Commission, for not preventing customers from become pipeline pawns, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Thursday.

A little over a week ago, John Bruckner, president of National Grid New York, proudly took Kramer into his command center to show off his gas pipeline system. Now he faces the very real possibility that the system will be taken over by someone else, because he declared a gas moratorium that denied natural gas to 3,700 customers.

The governor is calling this a case of “corporate abuse.” National Grid calls it a wakeup call and a cold dose of reality. They’ve already explained that the existing pipelines don’t provide enough product for that many customers. But Cuomo and his environmentalist buddies continue to block any proposals to bring in a new pipeline to alleviate the problem.

Cuomo is really becoming unhinged over this. He told the utilities regulator to find out “when and how we eliminate an abusive utility from the state to protect consumers.”

But he didn’t stop there. Never one to complain about a problem without offering a solution, Cuomos offered up a suggestion. “What are the alternatives? You could use oil. You could truck in gas,” he said.

Excuse me? This is your idea of a solution to the problem? Oil or “trucking in gas?” First of all, even if you could start pumping heating oil through the existing pipelines (you can’t), the furnaces, stoves and other appliances that rely on the supply can’t run on oil. They’re not designed for it. Unless you want to tell everyone to gut their buildings, rip out the gas heaters and replace them with oil-fired furnaces. But then you’re just using more evil fossil fuels that you promised to keep in the ground.

I suppose you could consider “trucking in” CNG (compressed natural gas), assuming they have the facilities to offload it and feed it into the lines. But that process would cost a fortune and heating prices would spike. I somehow don’t think the voters will be too happy with you if that’s the answer.

There are two solutions here. You can try to abandon natural gas for all new customers and construction projects and come up with some other way to heat those buildings. Of course, you’ll bankrupt a ton of construction projects and force consumers to get rid of and replace furnaces and stoves at considerable expense. Nobody is going to go along with that. The other option is to stop playing politics with the environmentalist lobby and approve the pipeline that the utility companies have been asking for for a decade. Then you’ll have cheap, clean energy available to heat all of these buildings for many years to come.

Or, I suppose, you can fire National Grid and hand the problem over to someone else. But they won’t be able to make imaginary natural gas appear out of thin air either.

The post NY Governor looks to revoke utility’s license over imaginary natural gas appeared first on Hot Air.

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California to allow illegal aliens to serve on government boards

Westlake Legal Group newsom-campaign California to allow illegal aliens to serve on government boards The Blog sanctuary illegal aliens governor Gavin Newsom California

The sanctuary state is at it again. California Governor Gavin Newsom has been burning through pens signing a raft of new bills into law at the close of his first legislative session. In addition to dozens of new gun laws, he also signed a bill further undermining federal immigration laws. This took the form of a bill that will allow illegal aliens to serve on government boards and commissions. A second measure claims to ban federal immigration officers from making arrests in courthouses. They seem to have missed the one where each illegal alien gets a free house and a lollipop after they cross the border. (LA Times)

California lawmakers continued the state’s expansion of rights and protections this year for immigrants who enter the country illegally, with laws signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom allowing them to serve on government boards and commissions and banning arrests for immigration violations in courthouses across the state.

The efforts by Newsom and Democrats in the California Legislature to provide refuge to immigrants stand in sharp contrast to the policies of President Trump, who continues to push for a new wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and also crack down on asylum seekers.

“Our state doesn’t succeed in spite of our diversity — our state succeeds because of it,” Newsom said in a written statement on Saturday after signing some of the bills into law.

The clown show continues on the left coast. The first element of the new legislation detailed above is probably legal, but relatively meaningless, and could very well backfire on them. If state or local governments begin publicly appointing illegal aliens to sit on boards and commissions, they can probably invite them to attend meetings. Of course, if it’s a paid position, then the government is in violation of federal law and should be eligible for prosecution because it’s illegal to hire an illegal alien for any paid position. It’s conceivable that offering them such a position could run afoul of the bringing in and harboring statues, but that’s less clear.

The way that part could backfire is just as clear. If I’m the local ICE supervisor and I see on the local news that an illegal alien has been appointed to a particular commission, I’m probably going to consider having some agents stop by the next time the commission meets. I mean, that’s just serving up dinner on a tray. And for many ICE offices, I wouldn’t put it past them, if only to prove a point.

The provision making it illegal for federal agents to take an illegal alien into custody at a courthouse is preposterous. That’s an attempt at nullification, which has never been supported in federal courts or at the Supreme Court. Also, attempting to interrupt a federal law enforcement official in the performance of their duties is a felony. I’d love to see Governor Newsom try that one personally.

But this is the form of insanity currently gripping the Golden State. Flee while you can.

The post California to allow illegal aliens to serve on government boards appeared first on Hot Air.

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Trump Takes Aim At The Deep South’s Last Democrat Governor

Westlake Legal Group AP_949621472719-e1464368975130-620x465 Trump Takes Aim At The Deep South’s Last Democrat Governor republicans Louisiana John Bel Edwards impeachment governor Front Page Stories Featured Story elections Eddie Rispone donald trump democrats 2019

Gov. John Bel Edwards talks about the state’s budget and his plans to call a special session for June to try to raise revenue to stave off cuts, on Thursday, May 5, 2016, in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)

Over the weekend, the last Democrat governor in the deep south was forced into a runoff with a Republican businessman with a lot of money behind him.

Louisiana’s John Bel Edwards was able to capture 47 percent of the vote in Louisiana’s jungle (all-in) primary, and Eddie Rispone came in second place with 27 percent. Republican Congressman Ralph Abraham came in third with 24 percent of the vote.

Rispone’s win was unexpected just a few weeks ago, but a surge of spending on ads that attacked both Edwards and Abraham helped push him into second place. Also helping both him and Abraham was a series of visits from high-profile Trump allies – Mike Pence and Donald Trump Jr. – and a visit Friday night by President Donald Trump himself.

Trump has already come out swinging in his endorsement of Rispone.

I mentioned last week that Trump himself has a lot riding on this gubernatorial election, as it is a good test of how much the impeachment process in Washington D.C. might be affecting his base.

Morning Consult, meanwhile, has President Donald Trump with a +15 net favorability rating, and the lowest number you can find in any poll as far as approval goes is 54%. Among Republicans, his favorability is 94%.

With a gubernatorial race coming up this Saturday, and with every major candidate in the race making their support or relationship with Trump a central issue, it’s becoming a race to watch if you want to see the effect of the all the impeachment talk going on in Washington D.C.

[…]

This type of push, when there are two Republican candidates and a Democrat going into a jungle primary means that Trump isn’t just interested in beating Edwards. He’s using the state’s Republican turnout as a gauge of support for him.

It will hold true, still, and there are more than a few parallels between Trump and Rispone – as the latter has been quick to mention since the race started. Both are businessmen, neither had political experience prior to their campaigns, and both scored huge upsets to put themselves in the spotlight against the top Democrat in their race.

Now, Edwards has a tough race ahead of him, and if he can’t make the race as little about Trump as possible, it will likely be a major part of why he is defeated in November. Edwards will definitely go on the attack against Rispone, but he can’t afford to make any references to Trump because the Republicans appear highly motivated in this state right now – the state’s Senate will see a Republican supermajority and it could very well be matched up with a House supermajority if the runoffs in specific House races fall into Republican hands.

With a motivated Republican base, Edwards will attack but will also have to make it as non-partisan as possible (personal attacks on Rispone’s character have already started bubbling up). He simply can’t allow Trump to dominate the conversation, but Trump in all likelihood will try to continue to stay in the conversation.

Rispone, however, has to compete against Edwards and the state’s Republicans he pissed off when he decided to attack Abraham in the primary – something the state party cautioned any Republican against doing this election. There have been whisperings of Republicans who will stay home rather than vote for Rispone, but he needs Abraham and the other major Republicans in the state to back him up and show he can be a unifier.

And, Rispone will continue to make this race about Trump, because it was clearly successful in the primary. The Republican vote in the primary far outweighed the Democratic vote, and it looks like that enthusiasm is lingering. If the Republicans pull the win off and knock out the last Democrat governor in the Deep South, then Trump can count it as a victory and proof that his support isn’t wavering under the Democrats’ attacks in D.C.

The post Trump Takes Aim At The Deep South’s Last Democrat Governor appeared first on RedState.

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Is Louisiana’s Dem Governor on the way out?

Westlake Legal Group bel-edwards Is Louisiana’s Dem Governor on the way out? The Blog runoff Louisiana John Bel Edwards governor

While it wasn’t drawing all that much press attention (given all the other drama going on), Louisiana was finishing up their latest round of elections this week. Many of the races ended up as predicted, but Governor John Bel Edwards didn’t manage to come up with a majority in the blanket primary. That means he’s heading into a runoff against a self-funded Republican opponent who has attracted the support of President Trump in a state that Trump carried by twenty points in 2016. (Associated Press)

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ quest for a second term as the Deep South’s only Democratic governor will stretch over another month, as voters denied him an outright primary win Saturday and sent him to a runoff election.

The incumbent’s inability to top 50% of the vote in the six-candidate field raised questions about his reelection chances against a national Republican offensive that includes President Donald Trump. Trump made a last-minute appeal to Louisiana’s voters to reject Edwards.

Edwards will compete in the Nov. 16 runoff against Eddie Rispone, a Baton Rouge businessman and longtime GOP political donor making his first bid for public office.

Edwards may not have crossed the 50% threshold to avoid a runoff, but he appears to have come in at around 46%. That’s actually an improvement for him from 2015 when he finished the primary with 39%, going on to win a decisive, eleven point victory over Republican David Vitter. (Vitter was embroiled in a prostitution scandal at the time and considered by many to be a weak candidate.)

Since Edwards is the only Democrat holding statewide office at the moment, can he continue to buck the trend and win a second term? That all depends on Republican candidate Eddie Rispone. He’s a business owner from Baton Rouge who has never held elected office before. He outspent his GOP primary opponent by a wide margin and would up splitting the conservative/GOP vote 22/20 with a projected 8% still undecided, so this could really come down to the wire.

Having President Trump’s vocal and physically present support should boost Rispone. But will it, given all of the flotsam and jetsam in the news every hour of the day? I suppose what we’re about to find out is how well both the Democrats and the Republicans vetted Rispone leading up to this race and if there’s any damaging oppo research out there waiting in his closet. Of course, if there had been you’d think they would have broken it out during the primary. (But you never know, right?)

Except as a possible bellwether for next November, the final result probably won’t change all that much for people outside of Louisiana. It’s not as if Edwards is any sort of far-left, socialist Democrat. Most of the other national Democrats don’t really even want to be seen standing next to him. He’s about as conservative as you can get while still having a “D” after your name. But as I said, this might turn out to be an interesting test of how well Donald Trump’s influence is holding up with the base as the impeachment follies drag on.

The post Is Louisiana’s Dem Governor on the way out? appeared first on Hot Air.

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As usual, California goes too far with new red flag law

Westlake Legal Group Gavin-Newsom As usual, California goes too far with new red flag law The Blog red flag gun control governor Gavin Newsom California

California Governor Gavin Newsom kept himself busy yesterday by signing a new red flag gun control bill into law. (This was only one of fifteen new gun control laws.) The strange part of this story is that the Golden State already had a red flag law on the books, similar to those in sixteen other states and the District of Columbia. But now they’re going much further. Previously, requests to have people’s firearms preemptively seized could only be issued by law enforcement or immediate family members. But starting January 1st, a whole bunch of other people will be able to drop a dime on you and have your weapons taken away until you can prove you’re not dangerous. (Associated Press)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed a law that will make the state the first to allow employers, co-workers and teachers to seek gun violence restraining orders against other people.”

They were among 15 gun-related laws Newsom approved as the state strengthens what the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence calls the nation’s toughest restrictions.

“California has outperformed the rest of the nation, because of our gun safety laws, in reducing the gun murder rate substantially compared to the national reduction,” Newsom said as he signed the measures surrounded by state lawmakers. “No state does it as well or comprehensively as the state of California, and we still have a long way to go.”

This is the third time the legislature passed this bill, but the previous two versions were vetoed by Jerry Brown. (And if your law is too radically far to the left for Jerry Brown to approve it, you might want to pause and consider what you’re doing.) This time, however, they managed to ram it through.

Not only was this bill too much for the last governor to swallow, but it was also opposed by the ACLU. They described the bill as one that “poses a significant threat to civil liberties.” They also expressed concerns that confiscation orders could be requested by people who lack the appropriate relationships with the gun owner and skills to make an accurate assessment of the potential threat they pose.

The law contains some language meant to alleviate those concerns, but it’s too vague to be really useful. People making reports are supposed to have “substantial and regular interactions” with the gun owner before making such a request, but who will decide how substantial that relationship is?

As with most of these red flag laws, the possibility exists that someone could actually identify a deranged or dangerous person and potentially prevent a tragedy. But these measures open the door for some angry coworker or ticked off ex-girlfriend or boyfriend to pick up the phone and send the cops over to confiscate your firearms. And then you’re in the position of having to prove your sanity and temperament in front of a judge before possibly having them returned. It’s just ripe for abuse.

Newsom also signed a measure limiting residents to one gun purchase per month. What that’s supposed to accomplish remains something of a mystery. If you’re looking to prevent impulse purchases by angry people there’s already a significant waiting period. And if they intend to harm someone, you may have limited the number of weapons available to them, but they’ve still got a gun.

California is an excellent example of why supporters of the Second Amendment constantly fret over slippery slopes. As soon as you open the door to one restriction, they begin chipping away at your rights incrementally. And at this point, the Second Amendment in California is already significantly hollowed out.

The post As usual, California goes too far with new red flag law appeared first on Hot Air.

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California Governor: “People should be outraged!”

Westlake Legal Group newsom California Governor: “People should be outraged!” The Blog power Pacific Gas & Electric governor Gavin Newsom Electricity California

As we previously discussed, the dry season is hanging over much of California these days and there are red flag alerts for potential wildfires all over the place. Thankfully we haven’t seen any of the truly horrific fires like the ones that hit the Golden State in the past couple of years, but conditions are tenuous. This has led Pacific Gas & Electric to once again shut off power to certain hazardous areas where high winds are expected.

This week, Governor Gavin Newsom was in Oakland and was asked about this issue by a reporter. His response? People “should be outraged” and “infuriated.” (CBS San Francisco)

Gov. Gavin Newsom said in Oakland on Tuesday that the estimated 800,000 customers across California who will be affected by a Public Safety Power Shutoff by PG&E starting on Wednesday should be “outraged” and “infuriated.”

The utility is planning the shut-off as a precaution due to high wildfire risk.

But Newsom, who spoke to reporters after he signed a rent cap measure at the West Oakland Senior Center, said the power shutoff “was anticipated many months ago and this is the (utility) industry’s best practice.”

So people should be outraged and infuriated at PG&E. Okay, Governor. But notice how quickly he turned around and provided every reason imaginable for people not to be outraged or infuriated. He started by saying that the power outages were predicted months ago and they are a “best practice” for the utility.

But he didn’t stop there. One Newsom got started it was as if he couldn’t find the off switch for his mouth. He went on to describe the “intense winds and low humidity” that lead to potential wildfires if power lines come down. He then seemed to defend the utility company, saying the power outages were “based on their determination of what’s in the best interest of their customers in partnership and consultation with the Office of Emergency Services, CalFire and experts in this field.”

Finally, he finished off with a statement saying that power outages had to do with “public safety and saving lives.”

Wait a minute, here. Weren’t people supposed to be outraged and infuriated? You know, because PG&E is trying to ensure public safety and save lives?

Keep in mind the other reason that PG&E is doing this. It’s because when they didn’t shut off everyone’s power and some fires broke out from downed power lines, they were sued by individuals and fined by the government to the point where they had to file for bankruptcy last January. One more round of financial hits like that and there won’t be a utility company to keep the lights on. (Literally) So, of course, they’re going to kill the power until they can upgrade the grid.

The worst part is that downed power lines may indeed have been responsible for some of the fires, but humans caused more of them, along with lightning strikes and acts of God. There will be more fires anyway. The only difference is people won’t have any power so they probably won’t catch the warnings on television.

The post California Governor: “People should be outraged!” appeared first on Hot Air.

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Trump Co-opts Louisiana Gubernatorial Election To Gauge Impeachment Crisis

Westlake Legal Group trump-fist-620x317 Trump Co-opts Louisiana Gubernatorial Election To Gauge Impeachment Crisis vote Ralph Abraham Politics Louisiana John Bel Edwards impeachment governor Front Page Stories Featured Story elections Eddie Rispone donald trump Allow Media Exception 2020 2019

President Donald Trump gestures towards members on the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, after returning from United Nations General Assembly. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Louisiana is a deep red state with a deep blue governor.

John Bel Edwards, despite his pro-life views, has been a classic Democrat while in office. He has threatened to cut everything from nursing homes to LSU football in an effort to get taxes raises. He forced through a partial renewal of an expiring tax and dared to call it a tax cut. He passed a teacher salary increase that was just enough to put good money in the coffers of the teachers unions while the teachers themselves end up only seeing somewhere between $12-50 per month in increased pay.

Meanwhile, the state’s population is shrinking as jobs flee and the citizens follow them. There is virtually nothing to keep many young, college-educated workers in the state, and blue-collar workers have watched Edwards’ allies sue oil and gas jobs out of the state and manufacturing jobs shut down.

Morning Consult, meanwhile, has President Donald Trump with a +15 net favorability rating, and the lowest number you can find in any poll as far as approval goes is 54%. Among Republicans, his favorability is 94%.

With a gubernatorial race coming up this Saturday, and with every major candidate in the race making their support or relationship with Trump a central issue, it’s becoming a race to watch if you want to see the effect of the all the impeachment talk going on in Washington D.C.

Clearly it’s important to Trump that the Republicans make a strong showing since both of the major Republican candidates have publicly expressed their support of him. He put out a call to Republican voters last week to be sure to vote for either of the Republicans – Congressman Ralph Abraham or Eddie Rispone – and announced over the weekend that he would be in the state this Friday, the day before the election, to rally voters. Mike Pence was in the state for a rally last Friday, and Donald Trump Jr. will be in the state today.

This type of push, when there are two Republican candidates and a Democrat going into a jungle primary means that Trump isn’t just interested in beating Edwards. He’s using the state’s Republican turnout as a gauge of support for him.

And, there may be signs that Republicans are more motivated in this election cycle. In 2015, Democrats had a major advantage in the early voting turnout. As of Friday, Republicans were almost neck and neck with them. Much of those numbers came in before Trump’s rallying cry, and Louisiana’s voters have several motivating factors to get them out of the polls. If Trump makes this election about him, however, that will affect Election Day voting, which could make or break Louisiana Republicans’ efforts to dethrone Edwards.

Trump sees this as a chance to use Louisiana as a bellwether. Our weird election calendar means that we have a gubernatorial election the year before the U.S. has a presidential election. Normally, being a deep-red state would make that fact meaningless. But being a deep-red state with a Democratic governor makes it a more interesting election cycle, because the Republican in power needs his base motivated if he has any hopes of staying in power. If they aren’t motivated now, how motivated will they be in sixth months or a year when the impeachment inquiry has been going on (assuming proceedings haven’t begun yet)?

On the one hand, there comes a point when the Democratic Party has cried “Wolf!” enough to make voters stop paying attention. On the other hand, constant negative coverage from a media that wants impeachment proceedings as badly as Democrats do will have an effect on the morale of voters. The Trump team wants to see which of those scenarios is taking hold in Louisiana by making the gubernatorial election about the president.

It’s a risky play, though, and could hurt the party. Edwards is polling dangerously close to not needing a runoff, and if enough Republicans in the state decide they don’t care about Trump, then they would simply stay home. That would be bad for Trump and Louisiana. On the other hand, if Trump does successfully motivate voters, he can point to this race as a sign to keep doing what he’s doing.

Polls will close at 8 p.m. (CT) in Louisiana, and not too long after that, we’ll see if Trump has something to worry about.

The post Trump Co-opts Louisiana Gubernatorial Election To Gauge Impeachment Crisis appeared first on RedState.

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Rhode Island Gov ignores FOIA requests over cozy contract

Westlake Legal Group Raimondo Rhode Island Gov ignores FOIA requests over cozy contract The Blog scandal Rhode Island no-bid contract governor Gina Raimondo FOIA corruption

Last time we checked in on Democratic Governor Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, she seemed to be in a bit of hot water. Thanks to some detailed investigative work by the Providence Journal, we learned of a plan where the Governor was awarding a 20-year contract to handle the state’s lottery system to IGT, the company that already ran the project. The problem was that the company’s performance had been seen as sub-par and they were getting this massive extension on a no-bid basis. Further, their former CEO was now a lobbyist with deep ties to the Governor herself.

It all stunk to high heaven and an ethics probe was begun. Meanwhile, journalists began filing FOIA requests to get all of the details as to how this sweet deal for IGT came about. Well, the clock has run out and the Governor has decided to simply not provide most of the requested documents. (Vally Breeze)

God bless The Providence Journal! The newspaper propounded an open records request to Gov. Gina Raimondo seeking “all communications to and from IGT and the governor’s staff – and their consultants – since January 2019…that relate to the proposed extension of the IGT contract.” (Providence Journal September 2, 2019).

At least 400 documents were withheld concerning the $1 billion, no bid 20-year contract. What was turned over on the last day the law allowed the state to respond were innocuous calendar entries and emails. Any meaty documents were withheld on spurious grounds such as records generated during the deliberative process.

That’s a fascinating strategy. Governor Raimondo is claiming that she doesn’t have to turn over any emails with IGT or other related documents if they were “generated during the deliberative process.” So she only handed over a few calendar entries and barely related communications. The problem is, there is no language in the state’s Access to Public Records Act allowing for such exceptions. She’s not allowed to refuse if the documents relate to public business, but she’s just shutting them down cold.

The Providence Journal has filed a separate appeal to Attorney General Peter Neronha, hoping that he can step in and enforce the law. Unfortunately, there’s no assurance that the effort will go anywhere. Neronha was an early endorser and supporter of the Governor, putting them on the same team. Prosecutorial discretion may rear its ugly head here yet again.

Meanwhile, the Journal did manage to extract some information about IGT and its operations in other states where they have similar contracts. In at least one of those offices they fell short of a guaranteed profit to the state and were forced to compensate them to the tune of nearly twenty million dollars. The sweetheart deal in Rhode Island contains no such assurance that they would repay losses. Other complaints have been raised to the point where it seems obvious that someone else could have had a shot at this contract and probably put in a competitive bid if it had been allowed.

Meanwhile, the Governor continues a pattern of denial and obfuscation. How much longer can this scandal drag out?

The post Rhode Island Gov ignores FOIA requests over cozy contract appeared first on Hot Air.

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Alaska deals a blow to unions

Westlake Legal Group Dunleavy Alaska deals a blow to unions union dues The Blog Mike Dunleavy Labor Unions Janus v AFSCME governor forced union fees Alaska

We’ve covered plenty of stories from all over the country dealing with the fallout from the Supreme Court’s Janus v AFSCME decision. The ruling barred public-sector unions from automatically collecting dues or “agency fees” from non-member employees’ paychecks against their wishes and using that money for political speech the worker might not agree with. Since then we’ve seen workers suing to recoup dues and unions fighting to find ways around the ruling and keep dipping into employees’ paychecks.

Now the state of Alaska has stepped into this mess in hopes of clearing things up. Governor Mike Dunleavy (R) has ordered that the illegal dues collection come to an end, but he’s putting a new twist on how this is handled. (Free Beacon)

Public sector unions in Alaska will no longer be able to automatically collect dues from workers after Republican governor Mike Dunleavy instituted the nation’s first statewide “opt-in” system of unionization.

In 2018, the Supreme Court overturned decades’ worth of legal precedent that allowed public-sector unions to collect mandatory dues or fees from government employees. The 5-4 ruling in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said that such a practice impedes on the First Amendment rights of workers by forcing them to financially support political speech. In response to the ruling, states around the country allowed employees to opt out of union membership. Gov. Dunleavy went a step further on Thursday, signing an executive order that requires employees to affirmatively opt in to union membership before agencies deduct dues from their salaries.

This is definitely a new approach compared to what most states have been doing. For one thing, the Governor is imposing this rule via executive order. And then there’s the new default assumption when it comes to fee collection.

Typically, workers have been offered the option to “opt out” of these agency fees. But in those cases, a worker who fails to take proactive action will still wind up having dues taken out of their paychecks. Once this Alaskan plan goes into effect in December, the default assumption will be that no workers pay dues unless they proactively “opt in” to the unions.

Going one step further, the workers will need to renew their commitment to the unions and opt in every year going forward. If they no longer feel that their money is being put to use in a way that reflects their own views, no action is required. By simply failing to opt in for the next cycle, they must be dropped from the rolls and dues collection must end.

Of course, that relies on the unions actually going along with the plan and following the law. That hasn’t always been the case since Janus was decided. Some unions have blatantly continued collecting dues until a court slapped them down. Others have been enforcing “window periods” from old contracts, giving workers only one week out of the year to opt out of paying the fees. They’re doing this even though the language in the Janus decision specifically forbids such restrictions.

Right to work activists in Alaska will need to keep a close eye on how this system plays out next year. If the public sector unions up there are anything like most of the ones in the lower 48, they’ll only go kicking and screaming into obeying the law.

The post Alaska deals a blow to unions appeared first on Hot Air.

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Did Trump cut a secret ethanol deal with Iowa’s governor?

Westlake Legal Group 682a8755-0a07-49d1-a2d1-3d8957a5653e Did Trump cut a secret ethanol deal with Iowa’s governor? The Blog King Corn Kim Reynolds Iowa governor ethanol deal

Over the summer, I wrote about how the President needs to climb down off the ethanol teeter-totter and pick one energy policy he can stick with. The competing interests of the ethanol lobby in corn-growing states and the oil and gas industry in the states with lots of refineries have had Donald Trump doing a political zig-zag routine that would make an NFL running back proud.

Unfortunately, we’ve seen no signs of progress on this front. The President has continued to hand out favors to both sides, resulting in a situation where both sides are perpetually angry. This pattern appeared to continue last week when Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced that she’d spoken to Trump and they were “close” to a deal that sounded good to her. And if it sounds good to Reynolds, you know it will sound terrible to the oil and gas folks. (Des Moines Register)

Gov. Kim Reynolds expressed optimism about a deal negotiated with President Donald Trump last week to mitigate the damage to Iowa’s ethanol industry caused by federal waivers for oil refineries, but cautioned that she’s still waiting to see the final version on paper.

“We’re waiting to see that in writing and hopefully we’ll get that sooner rather than later,” Reynolds told reporters on a conference call Wednesday. “And we’ll continue to touch base with the administration and just see where they’re at on it. But I take them at their word. It was a really, really good meeting with a good dialogue and ideas committed to the farmers.”

This sounds like a very dangerous meeting if you ask me, particularly if there’s nothing “on paper” yet. Reynolds is talking about a “fix” for the exemptions granted to 31 refineries under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). King Corn sees those exemptions as damaging the market for ethanol. The refineries see them as a way to avoid bankruptcy caused by the crushing burden of costs from the government’s artificial “market” for ethanol, generated by mandates rather than demand.

So what could a “fix” for the exemptions look like? The most obvious choice is to take back some or all of the exemptions, throwing the refineries (and the jobs they support) under the bus. If that’s the President’s approach it’s not a very good one because it just puts him right back where he was before the most recent round of negotiations. He’ll temporarily make the people in Iowa happy while once again ticking off the folks in Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Texas (among others).

Perhaps there’s a better solution out there just waiting to be taken up. Rather than continuing to beat up American interests, if Trump really wants to come up with a gift for King Corn, how about a plan to vastly ease the ethanol industry’s ability to sell to Brazil? Only a few weeks ago that country significantly increased the cap on the amount of tariff-free ethanol they will allow to be imported. Why not make sure that our ethanol producers scoop up those export opportunities?

Shipping a few hundred million more gallons of ethanol out of the country would ease the pressure to force even more of that garbage fuel into our gasoline supply. And as a bonus, you’d be sending it to somebody who actually wants it rather than making companies buy it via government mandates. This would still be a “solution” arrived at by having the government pick winners and losers (which is bad) but you could at least put the battle for the President’s soul between King Corn and the fossil fuel industry into some sort of truce for a while.

The post Did Trump cut a secret ethanol deal with Iowa’s governor? appeared first on Hot Air.

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