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Gender: Male
Hometown: South Texas. most of my life I lived in Austin and Dallas
Home country: United States
Current location: Bryan, Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 85,773

About Me

Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

Lawmakers consider prohibiting use of credit score to determine insurance rates

Washington lawmakers are considering a bill that would prohibit insurance companies from using credit scores to determine rates or premiums for personal home and auto insurance.

During a public hearing this month, regulators, industry stakeholders and consumer advocates testified about the validity of using credit scores to determine an insurer’s risk, the implications of socio-economic inequality and the effect that quitting the practice could have on insurance customers across the state.

Senate Bill 5010’s primary sponsor, Sen. Mona Das (D-Kent), said the use of credit scores to determine the cost of insurance is “punitive” and can often have a negative impact on low-income Washingtonians and communities of color, both of which have already been disproportionately affected by the onset of the pandemic.

Das argued that being laid-off, cancelling your credit cards, or paying less on your credit bill month to month really has nothing to do with how you drive or how you care for your home — and is not a fair way for insurers to determine their risk when they open insurance policies.

Read more: https://www.seattleweekly.com/news/lawmakers-consider-prohibiting-use-of-credit-score-to-determine-insurance-rates/

Single-Payer Health Care Is Here By 2026, If We Want It

One of the lessons the pandemic keeps pounding into our heads is how much our private, employer-based health insurance system sucks.

Last year COVID-related job losses kicked millions of Americans off their health insurance, leaving them without coverage precisely when they needed it most. In Washington, those losses likely drove thousands to the state’s health care exchanges, where expensive premiums and high deductibles still reign despite recent efforts to lower costs through a price control program Gov. Jay Inslee likes to call "a public option," and where many in need still make too much money to qualify for a subsidy.

Even with that safety net in place, the Office of Financial Management estimates about half a million Washingtonians remain uninsured—down from nearly a million last May—including approximately "125,000 undocumented immigrants" who lack access to basic care, according to a new report from the state's Universal Health Care Work Group.

On top of all that, analysts predict health care spending will continue skyrocketing, with costs rising on average twice as fast as wages.

Read more: https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2021/01/19/54678444/single-payer-health-care-is-here-by-2026-if-we-want-it

Bill with relief for Washington businesses, unemployed workers heads to governor's desk

A bill that would increase the minimum weekly benefit for unemployed workers and curb an increase in employers’ unemployment taxes has passed the both houses of the Washington state legislature with broad support.

The state Senate passed the bill, which was requested by Gov. Jay Inslee, in a 42-7 vote Wednesday night. It then moved to the House, which fast-tracked it to the floor and passed it in a 89-8 vote Friday afternoon.

As written, it would go into effect immediately when Inslee signs it into law.

“This issue is urgent,” said prime sponsor Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, in a statement after it passed off the Senate floor earlier this week. “Employers are seeing increases of 300 to 500 percent and more in their unemployment premiums. SB (Senate Bill) 5061 provides a bridge for those who need it most.”

Read more: https://www.theolympian.com/news/politics-government/article248884159.html

With deal, Inslee lifts pause on local highway projects

OLYMPIA — Three Snohomish County highway projects, worth millions of dollars and put on hold by the governor earlier this month, are back on track.

Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday cleared the way for those and other projects around the state to proceed after reaching an understanding with legislators on the importance of adequately funding the removal of hundreds of fish passage barriers in the next two-year transportation budget.

“I am lifting the pause today based on the agreement reached between the Legislature and the governor,” wrote David Schumacher, Inslee’s budget director, in a memo to House and Senate transportation leaders.

Inslee directed the state Department of Transportation on Jan. 11 to not solicit bids on certain highway projects mostly supported by state dollars. His directive, which was to be in place through the end of April, exempted fish passage, preservation and safety projects.

Read more: https://www.heraldnet.com/news/with-deal-inslee-lifts-pause-on-local-highway-projects/
(Everett Herald)

Pair plead guilty to paying, receiving health care kickbacks

Two more individuals have pleaded guilty to conspiring to pay and receive kickbacks in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute.

Kimberly Willette, 59, of Friendswood, Texas, and Edwin Chad Isbell, 48, of McKinney, Texas, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit illegal remunerations on Jan. 25, 2021 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Caroline Craven.

Nicolas Arroyo of Newport Coast, California, previously pleaded guilty for his involvement in the conspiracy.

“Kickback schemes are anti-competitive, lead to overutilization and higher program costs, and prioritize profits over patient care,” said Acting United States Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei. “The payment and receipt of kickbacks related to federal health care programs will not be tolerated in the Eastern District of Texas.”

According to information presented in court, the defendants conspired with others to pay and receive kickbacks in exchange for the referral of, and arranging for, health care business, specifically pharmacogenetic (PGx) tests. Pharmacogenetic testing, also known as pharmacogenomic testing, is a type of genetic testing that identifies genetic variations that effect how an individual patient metabolizes certain drugs. The illegal arrangement concerned the referral of PGx tests to clinical laboratories in Fountain Valley, California, Irvine, California, and San Diego, California. More than $28 million in illegal kickback payments were exchanged by the defendants and others during the conspiracy.

Read more: https://www.heralddemocrat.com/story/news/2021/01/29/pair-plead-guilty-paying-receiving-health-care-kickbacks/4310295001/
(Sherman Herald Democrat)

Gov. Abbott signs executive order to protect energy industry from federal overreach

Gov. Greg Abbott hosted a roundtable with energy workers, leaders, and advocates Thursday, Jan. 28 in Odessa, before issuing an Executive Order aimed to protect Texas' energy industry from federal overreach.

The governor's order directs every state agency to use all lawful powers and tools to challenge any federal action that threatens the continued strength, vitality, and independence of the energy industry.

The order directs state agencies to identify potential litigation, notice-and-comment opportunities, and any other means of preventing federal overreach within the law.

Abbott also announced his support for legislation that will prohibit cities from banning natural gas appliances.

Read more: https://www.athensreview.com/news/gov-abbott-signs-executive-order-to-protect-energy-industry-from-federal-overreach/article_cddf1ac6-61a5-11eb-aab4-bf543cae9f14.html

FCC slaps ex-Idaho Nazi sympathizer with nearly $10 million fine for racist robocalls

A Nazi sympathizer and former Idaho resident faces a $9.9 million fine from the Federal Communications Commission after he plagued various parts of the country with racist, anti-Semitic and threatening robocalls.

Scott D. Rhodes, 51, who moved to Libby, Montana, from Sandpoint, in North Idaho, in late 2018, spent much of that year recording vitriolic messages that rang tens of thousands of phones in at least eight states.

In addition to attacking Black and Jewish politicians, Rhodes’ messages threatened a journalist in Sandpoint, targeted an Iowa community grieving the murder of a local college student, and attempted to influence the jury in a murder case against a white supremacist in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In announcing the fine on Jan. 14, the FCC said Rhodes repeatedly violated the Truth in Caller ID Act by manipulating the calls to make them appear as if they came from local phone numbers, a process known as “neighbor spoofing.”

Read more: https://www.idahostatesman.com/news/northwest/idaho/article248885559.html

Idiocracy overrules sanity among Idaho's GOP legislators

Considering they call themselves the party of fiscal responsibility, the party of limited government, the party of personal freedom, the party of anti-cancel culture and anti-virtue signaling, the majority of the Idaho GOP sure seems to embody none of that.

The Republican members of the Idaho Legislature would say they’re looking out for all Idahoans, but from what I’ve seen in the last few sessions, the vast majority of bills they’ve proposed or passed are 1) legislation to give themselves more power, 2) legislation to take power away from the people, 3) legislation that addresses things that aren’t even an issue and 4) legislation that our own attorney general assures them will be overturned in court but they proceed anyway.

In the latter instance, the legislation does get overturned in court — shocking, I know — thus wasting millions of taxpayer dollars just to virtue signal to their followers that they are on the same side. So much for fiscal responsibility.

Speaking of fiscal responsibility, is it fiscally responsible for lawmakers to pick a multi-year legal fight with the state treasurer over whether they can kick her out of her offices in the Capitol building so they can have more office space? That debacle ended up costing taxpayers almost $700,000, so I don’t think so.

Read more: https://www.idahostatejournal.com/opinion/columns/idiocracy-overrules-sanity-among-idaho-s-gop-legislators/article_2ca68081-b18d-54c4-80bb-5c79bab85595.html

Federal judge speeds lawsuit on Statehouse coronavirus rules

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A federal judge has agreed to speed up the timeline for a lawsuit brought by two Idaho lawmakers concerned about a lack of coronavirus precautions at the Statehouse.

Democrat Reps. Muffy Davis of Ketchum and Sue Chew of Boise both have health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe complications if they are infected with COVID-19.

Though there have been documented cases of the virus among staffers on both the House and Senate sides of the state Capitol building, Idaho's legislative leaders have declined to require masks and lawmakers aren't allowed to attend and vote remotely on legislation.

Chew and Davis want the judge to order the Legislature to allow lawmakers to attend remotely, using technological equipment already in place that would allow them to participate in lawmaking procedures virtually.

Read more: https://www.idahostatejournal.com/news/state/federal-judge-speeds-lawsuit-on-statehouse-coronavirus-rules/article_2cc43b9a-9937-519f-bfc9-f19c17d36682.html

Senate GOP introduces new resolution to do away with COVID-19 restrictions

BOISE — Seven GOP senators, including all four members of the Senate Republican leadership, introduced a new resolution Friday seeking to repeal the governor’s current Stage 2 public health order regarding the coronavirus pandemic, despite two Idaho Attorney General's opinions in two days branding such an effort unconstitutional.

“We have received an independent legal opinion to the contrary,” Senate Majority Leader Kelly Anthon, R-Burley, told the Idaho Press on Friday. He said that opinion came from the Legislature's contracted legal counsel at the firm Holland & Hart.

The new resolution, SCR 103, would repeal all current Stage 2 statewide COVID-19 restrictions, including limits on the size of gatherings, requirements for social distancing and sanitizing, requirements that bar and nightclub patrons be seated and a mask mandate at Idaho nursing homes.

Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, chair of the Senate State Affairs Committee, said it was “just a little change” from SCR 101, the measure the same panel had earlier approved on a party-line vote aiming to repeal the current disaster declaration, but that was pulled from the Senate floor by its lead sponsor, Sen. Steve Vick, on Wednesday.

Read more: https://www.idahopress.com/news/local/senate-gop-introduces-new-resolution-to-do-away-with-covid-19-restrictions/article_5bf88ddc-0f1f-5f5d-bcbd-0015153f0906.html
(Nampa Idaho Press)
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