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Name: Chris Bastian
Gender: Male
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Home country: USA
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 89,890

Journal Archives

Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop confirms he's leaving Congress, undecided about governor's race

Source: Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's longest-serving member of the state's congressional delegation confirmed Monday he will not seek a ninth term, keeping a promise he made to voters in 2012 that he would "retire" next year.

The GOP member from the 1st Congressional District discussed his decision during a meeting with the Deseret News and KSL editorial boards Monday morning.

What does the future hold for Rep. Rob Bishop, who also has said he's toying with running for Utah governor in 2020?

"I am not going to run for governor because I am bored or want a job," he said, adding that there has to be a reason to jump into that race. Bishop said he is looking at areas where he can make a difference, and the governor's chair is something he is "thinking about." Education, he added, is one arena where he believes he might be able to make an impact.

Read more: https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900081657/republican-utah-rep-rob-bishop-wont-seek-2020-reelection.html

Safe R+26 district

Senator Klobuchar's Housing Plan

Bridging the Rural-Urban divide and Expanding Affordable Housing Opportunities, Providing Access to Justice and Revitalizing Neglected Neighborhoods

Expanding Access to Justice and Fighting Discrimination
● Provide access to counsel. Senator Klobuchar will create a new federal grant program with the goal of eliminating the unmet need when it comes to providing access to counsel in civil cases involving basic human needs, which means providing counsel for people who are dealing with evictions, being denied access to health care and having wages unfairly taken.

● Prohibit landlords from unfairly discriminating against renters. Senator Klobuchar will ban all landlords from discriminating against people based on their income, including housing vouchers or disability benefits. She will also protect renters by preventing the blacklisting of people who have been to court over eviction or discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or veterans status.

● Combat segregation in housing. Senator Klobuchar will suspend the Trump Administration’s proposals to weaken fair housing rules. As previously announced, in her first 100 days as President Senator Klobuchar will suspend the Trump Administration’s attempts to weaken efforts to combat segregation in housing by modifying the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule.

● Reinstate the Office of Fair Lending and Opportunity’s enforcement and oversight powers. The Trump Administration has significantly weakened the Office of Fair Lending and Opportunity, stripping the office of its ability to ensure fair and equitable access to credit. As President, Senator Klobuchar will restore all enforcement and oversight powers to the Office of Fair Lending and Opportunity to monitor fair lending practices and coordinate with the Department of Justice to prevent lending discrimination before it happens.

Addressing the Rural Housing Crisis

● Increase affordable rental housing in rural communities. 54 million Americans live in rural areas with a severe need for more affordable rental housing. Senator Klobuchar will strengthen rural rental assistance programs and significantly increase investments in the rural housing supply, which includes expanding affordable housing programs serving Native Americans.

● Improve access to information about rural housing programs. To take advantage of federal support for new rural housing, developers must first know about the programs available to them. Senator Klobuchar will improve training for state, local and federal agencies so communities and developers can better access housing opportunities. Senator Klobuchar will also improve and expand programs that provide technical assistance to rural nonprofits to connect rural communities with resources to develop housing.

● Encourage innovative strategies to attract private investment. Americans living in rural areas need access to mortgages, but rural housing markets present specific challenges for private investors. Through the purchasing power of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Senator Klobuchar will encourage lenders to use their existing mortgage portfolio data to better serve rural mortgage markets. Senator Klobuchar will also provide incentives for community financial development institutions to provide access to credit in rural communities using the expertise of local financial institutions.

Increasing Access to Affordable Housing

● Invest in Housing Choice Vouchers. The Housing Choice Voucher program helps provide the stable homes families need to succeed, but demand far exceeds the number of vouchers available. Senator Klobuchar will make a major investment to make vouchers available to all qualifying households with children.

● Promote effective zoning rules. Outdated zoning rules can make it harder to build affordable housing in many areas. Some cities are beginning to update their zoning policies through initiatives like Minneapolis 2040 to increase affordable housing opportunities. Senator Klobuchar will prioritize areas that have updated their zoning rules when awarding federal housing and infrastructure grants.

● Give renters access to emergency funds for rent. The path toward eviction can start with an unexpected emergency expense. As she has previously announced, Senator Klobuchar will work to create innovative, portable personal savings accounts called UP Accounts that can be used for retirement and emergencies — including non-routine expenses like rent payments in situations like a lapse in earnings, a car accident, or family leave.1 Under her plan, employers will set aside at least 50 cents per hour worked, helping a worker build more than $600,000 in wealth over the course of a career.

● Support housing for people with disabilities. Senator Klobuchar will strengthen housing programs that assist people with disabilities. She will also invest in the successful Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program.

● Promote climate change mitigation and resilience. Residential buildings are a significant source of carbon emissions. Senator Klobuchar will ensure that all federal housing programs implement strong standards to reduce carbon emissions and she will invest in retrofitting so existing housing is more energy efficient.

Providing Access to Opportunity

● Encourage mobility for renters. An effective way to break the cycle of poverty is to move to a neighborhood that provides greater opportunity. Senator Klobuchar will expand the pilot for mobility housing vouchers that allows families to use their vouchers in higher opportunity neighborhoods. She will expand incentives to encourage relocation and work with regional and federal housing agencies to reduce obstacles that can make these relocations difficult.

● Increase the supply of affordable housing in high opportunity neighborhoods. The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit is a critical tool for developing affordable rental housing. Senator Klobuchar will push to expand the current allocations to support the construction of additional units. She will also work to encourage construction in high opportunity neighborhoods.

● Reduce homelessness. Over half a million Americans experience homelessness every night. Senator Klobuchar will make a major investment in homeless assistance grants that provide emergency and long-term housing and build on her work in the Senate increasing access to case management services like counseling and job training. This also means addressing the unique challenges of specific homeless populations including those living in rural areas, domestic violence victims, and the formerly incarcerated.

● Help seniors age in place. By 2040, one in five Americans will be over 65, but the current supply of rental housing is not equipped for this Silver Surge. In the first 100 days of her Administration, Senator Klobuchar will reverse the Trump Administration’s proposed changes to federal housing subsidies that could triple rent for some households and would be particularly harmful for seniors. In addition, she will update regulations for reverse mortgages to make sure seniors have access to safe products that make it easier to stay in their homes, as well as expand support for affordable senior housing. She will direct affordable housing programs to allow retrofitting of rental housing and encourage a share of new rental housing to be built in a senior friendly way.

Increasing Access to Homeownership

● Revitalize and build value in neglected neighborhoods. In some neighborhoods, neglected properties make investments to improve living conditions or build property value economically infeasible. Neighboring blighted and abandoned properties further reduce the possibility of investment, leading to downward spiral. Senator Klobuchar will advocate for a new federal tax credit, similar to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, to encourage investment in family-owned homes in distressed neighborhoods.

● Promote homeownership through down payment assistance and credit development. Saving for a downpayment and building a credit history are two of the largest obstacles new homebuyers face. Senator Klobuchar will build on programs that allow certain types of rental housing assistance to be used for home ownership expenses. She will also work to pass legislation that expands access to capital for down payments and makes it easier to build a credit history by allowing credit bureaus to use on-time payment data from cell phone bills, utilities, and rent in calculating credit scores.

● Protect the Community Reinvestment Act. During the first 100 days of her presidency, Senator Klobuchar will direct financial regulators to strengthen Community Reinvestment Act protections, develop policies to encourage financial institutions to make loans and investment in local communities, especially communities in need, and conduct greater outreach to assess the true credit needs of certain areas.

● Improve education for homebuyers. Buying a home can be confusing, especially for first-time homebuyers. Senator Klobuchar will strengthen federal homebuyer education programs including targeted programs for communities with low levels of homeownership.
To pay for these policies, Senator Klobuchar will raise the capital gains rate to the income tax rate for households making over $400,000, and as announced in her infrastructure plan, which included plans for housing, raising the corporate tax rate to 25%.
^1. This proposal is modeled after the Saving for the Future Act, which was introduced by Senators Coons and Klobuchar.


Georgia awards contract for new voting machines

Source: The Hill

Georgia awarded a $150 million contract to voting equipment manufacturer Dominion Voting Systems to implement a “verified paper ballot system” in the state prior to the March 2020 presidential primaries, the Georgia Secretary of State’s office announced on Monday.

This will involve replacing current voting machines in Georgia with machines from Dominion that print a paper ballot after the voter has made their choices to further secure the vote against outside interference.


Raffensperger’s office noted in a statement that the machines will be in place by March 24, 2020, the date of Georgia’s Presidential Preference Primary. The Secretary of State’s office has already partnered with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and private cyber companies to improve election security in the state, with several Georgia counties working with DHS to provide security assessments of election offices.

The new machines are being put in place after a new law in April that requires elections in Georgia to “be conducted with the use of scanning ballots marked by electronic ballot markers and tabulated by using ballot scanners for voting at the polls and for absentee ballots cast in person.” The electronic ballots markers are required to “produce paper ballots.”

Read more: https://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/455211-georgia-awards-contract-for-new-voting-machines

BREAKING: Gilroy shooter, age 19, bought gun legally in Nevada


Texas man tries to board plane with missile launcher: TSA

New York Daily News

Forget magnets and keychains. This Texas man was way more ambitious about his souvenirs.

Authorities said a traveler at Baltimore’s international airport was caught Monday trying to fly with a missile launcher from Kuwait in his checked luggage.

Transportation Security Administration officers detected the item, which was “not a live device,” during a routine inspection at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, the agency said in a statement.


Biden Bounces Back As Harris Slumps Among U.S. Dems, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds

Quinnpiac Polling Institute

Former Vice President Joseph Biden reverses his slump following the first Democratic presidential debate and now leads the pack with 34 percent of Democrats and independent voters who lean Democratic, according to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has 15 percent, with 12 percent for California Sen. Kamala Harris and 11 percent for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

This compares to results of a July 2 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe- ack) University National Poll, showing Biden with 22 percent, Harris with 20 percent, Warren with 14 percent and Sanders with 13 percent.

In today's results:
- Biden gets 53 percent of black Democrats, with 8 percent for Sanders, 7 percent for Harris and 4 percent for Warren;
- Women Democrats go 34 percent for Biden, 15 percent for Warren, 14 percent for Harris and 10 percent for Sanders;
- Very liberal Democrats go 29 percent for Warren, 25 percent for Biden, 15 percent for Sanders and 12 percent for Harris;
- Somewhat liberal Democrats go 34 percent for Biden, 16 percent for Sanders, 14 percent for Warren and 10 percent for Harris;
- Moderate/conservative Democrats go 39 percent for Biden, 12 percent for Harris, 9 percent for Warren and 8 percent for Sanders.

Rounding out the Democratic field are South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 6 percent, and former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke and entrepreneur Andrew Yang with 2 percent each. There are four candidates with 1 percent each and 14 candidates at less than 1 percent each.

DCCC executive director resigns

Source: Roll Call

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Executive Director Allison Jaslow has resigned.

She announced her departure at all-staff meeting on Monday. Politico first reported the news, which a DCCC source confirmed to CQ Roll Call. DCCC leadership had come under fire from some lawmakers for not including more diverse staffers among its top brass.


Jaslow was close to Bustos, having served as chief of staff in her House office and having worked on her first campaign in 2012. An Iraq veteran, Jaslow was the executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America before coming to the DCCC.

Texas Reps. Vicente Gonzalez and Filemon Vela had called for Jaslow to step down over the weekend.

Read more: https://www.rollcall.com/news/campaigns/dccc-executive-director-resigns

Some people seem to feel that stories like this are just "stirring the pot". They not, if it puts our ability to fundraise for the next House election.

How an early Biden crime bill created the sentencing disparity for crack and cocaine trafficking

Washington Post

The new form of cocaine was called crack, and by the summer of 1986 it was fueling fears of a drug epidemic.

Mayors pleaded for federal help to protect inner-city neighborhoods from traffickers. Black clergy members held vigils on street corners in New York City, calling cocaine a “new form of genocide.” In Washington, Democrats charged that the Reagan administration was surrendering the fight.

A 44-year-old Democratic senator from Delaware with a growing national profile stepped forward with a bill aimed at heading off the crisis.

The bipartisan legislation crafted by Joe Biden, which authorized new funding for drug treatment programs and stricter penalties for drug offenses, passed overwhelmingly, with the support of most black lawmakers, and was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.

Later, a little-noticed provision in the law came to be viewed as one of the most racially slanted sentencing policies on record: a rule that treated crack cocaine as significantly worse than powder cocaine and ended up disproportionately punishing African Americans.

Cuomo signs law decriminalizing marijuana use

Source: WNBC-TV

Gov. Cuomo signed legislation Monday decriminalizing marijuana use in the state of New York.

The law reduces unlawful possession of marijuana to a violation punishable by a fine.

Additionally, it also creates a process for individuals convicted of certain marijuana offenses to have their records expunged.

The governor's office said that New York's existing marijuana laws disproportionately affects African American and Latino communities, and the legislation addresses the racial and ethnic disparities.

Read more: https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Cuomo-Signs-Law-Decriminalizing-Marijuana-Use-New-York-513335641.html?akmobile=o

DCCC in 'complete chaos' as uproar over diversity intensifies


The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is in full-blown turmoil.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) was set to make an unplanned trip to Washington from her district Monday amid an outcry from top black and Latino lawmakers over a lack of diversity in the campaign arm's senior management ranks.

Bustos’ sudden return to D.C., just days after Congress left for a six-week-long August recess, comes as aides and lawmakers are calling for systematic changes to the DCCC, the party’s main election organ.

POLITICO reported last week that black and Hispanic lawmakers are furious with Bustos’ stewardship of the campaign arm. They say the upper echelon of the DCCC is bereft of diversity, and it is not doing enough to reach Latino voters and hire consultants of color. In addition, several of Bustos’ senior aides have left in the first six months of her tenure, including her chief of staff — a black woman — and her director of mail and polling director, both women.
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