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Texas Media Watch
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Texas Media Watch

KENS-TV producer Dave Davies was reprimanded Friday after Texas Media Watch provided his superiors with an e-mail he had directed to State Rep. Elizabeth Ames Jones, stating his opposition to her position on the Democratic walkout. KENS-TV is the CBS affiliate in San Antonio. Shortly after the Democrats left the Capitol Monday, Rep. Jones issued a short statement to the press saying she was disappointed with her colleagues. She charged they were wasting taxpayer dollars and behaving childishly.

05/16/2003
Insurance Reform Passes NJ Legislature
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Insurance Reform Passes NJ Legislature

The New Jersey General Assembly yesterday approved legislation correcting years of politically influenced auto insurance regulations, which have eroded the availability of coverage for the state's drivers. The New Jersey Automobile Insurance Competition and Choice Act (S-63/A-2625) aims to attract more auto insurers to do business in New Jersey and provide consumers greater and easier access to auto insurance coverage. "Years of excessive regulations have turned New Jersey into a horror story for drivers seeking insurance," said John Friedman, chairman of the Coalition for Auto Insurance Competition. "Thanks to bipartisan leadership, New Jersey drivers are closer to reaping the benefits of a more competitive auto insurance marketplace." Politicizing and over regulating auto insurance is the root cause of the state's exodus of auto insurers, leaving consumers too few companies from which to purchase auto insurance. Five of the six largest auto insurers in the nation do not sell auto coverage in the state and more than twenty auto insurers have left New Jersey in the past decade. The Coalition for Auto Insurance Competition, a New Jersey-based group of businesses, associations and consumers, has been the leading voice calling for reforms to stimulate competition and greater choices for consumers. "Considering New Jersey's nationwide reputation for over regulating auto insurance, today's final legislative passage has tremendous significance," said Friedman. Having passed both legislative houses the bill now goes to Governor James McGreevey for his expected signature. The Coalition members include the National Association of Independent Insurers, Insurance Council of New Jersey, American Insurance Association, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, Independent Insurance Agents of New Jersey, Citizens for a Sound Economy, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, New Jersey Association of REALTORS(R), Professional Insurance Agents of New Jersey, New Jersey Food Council, New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, NJ SEED (Society for Environmental, Economic Development) Latino Chamber of Commerce of Mercer County, and the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey.

05/16/2003
Capitol Protests Hit From 2 Sides
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Capitol Protests Hit From 2 Sides

BY Peter Wong

To get a sense of what some Oregonians think lawmakers should do about the state budget, all you had to do was hang around the Capitol for a few hours Thursday. The latest forecast of state income, which is down almost $700 million for the next two years, did not change some people's minds. On a chilly Thursday morning, on the Capitol's front steps, about 100 advocates and recipients of social services rallied under the banner of the Human Services Coalition of Oregon. They opposed more spending cuts and supported higher taxes or reduced tax breaks. On a chilly Thursday afternoon, on the Capitol's west steps, about 100 people rallied under the banner of Oregon Citizens for a Sound Economy. They opposed higher taxes or reduced tax breaks and supported more spending cuts and efficiencies. Both sides had their stories to tell. Beverly Bettis of Hubbard sat at the edge of the morning rally. At age 68 with multiple sclerosis, she relies on caregivers under Oregon Project Independence to lift her from bed each morning, give her a bath, put her in a wheelchair and put her back into bed at night. It costs the state $400 per month. But the alternative for her is a nursing home at $3,000 per month, much of which could be paid from federal grants. She would lose her home. "This service makes so much of a difference in the value and quality of my life," Bettis said. "I am able to be involved and participate in church and community activities. Otherwise, I am stuck at home." What is left of Oregon Project Independence, established 25 years ago, would be eliminated in the draft proposal by the Legislature's budget writers. "I continue to hope that they can find new revenue and ways to balance things," Bettis said. Michael Koester of Ashland, who also uses a wheelchair, arrived the previous day to meet his legislators. The commercial artist created cardboard cutouts of human figures with one-sheet descriptions of what various state spending cuts have done to people. The cutouts were lined up around the human services rally, and people were invited to supply descriptions by computer. "The concept was to represent Oregonians of all kinds - not just people with disabilities, but people who never get seen up here," said Koester, who himself has been in danger of losing in-home care. "I'd like lawmakers to see the real faces behind their decisions." Steve Mitchell of Ashland had a differing view. He said his dry-cleaning business has been forced to close three of six locations and reduce employees from 26 to 12. "That's real life," Mitchell said. "I had to cut everything I could to stay alive in business. As a citizen, I am saying that government has to do the same thing." He supports proposals by Citizens for a Sound Economy and the Taxpayers Association of Oregon to overhaul the public-pension system, eliminate vacant state jobs, find more efficiencies in agencies, and transfer some government functions to the business sector. Bill and Donna Cain of Rogue River also were part of the Citizens for a Sound Economy group. Donna Cain, current secretary of the Oregon Republican Party and a 1998 candidate for nomination to the Oregon House, said legislators are making progress with scaling back the long-term unfunded liability of the Public Employees Retirement System. "We are encouraged by what has been done so far," she said. "But we are hoping that it continues because PERS is costing the state billions. Anyone else in any other kind of business does not get that kind of retirement guarantee." Bill Cain said that efforts ought to be extended to paring other payroll costs in the public schools. "We need to return control of the education system to the people and out from under the unions," he said. Rob Wheaton of Portland relies on medications to keep his body from rejecting the transplanted heart he received six years ago. He had been living with an enlarged heart. When voters rejected an income-tax increase Jan. 28, it triggered elimination of state assistance to Wheaton and more than 8,000 "medically needy" people with high medical expenses but unable to qualify for Medicaid. The Legislature restored medications for transplant and AIDS patients through June 30. Before that restoration, Wheaton said he was down to a three-day supply of medication, some of it obtained from others. He is worried that the state cutoff will stand - and he has not received any free or reduced-price medications from drug manufacturers. "For me, it's difficult to watch my pill supply dwindle," said Wheaton, who's 29 and looking for work. "It has become an hourglass of my life. I see those pill boxes getting smaller and bottles getting emptier. I see death coming."

05/16/2003
What's Next
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What's Next

The quarterly economic and revenue forecast for state government will be presented at 9 a.m. today in Hearing Room A of the Capitol to a joint meeting of the House and Senate revenue committees. A rally urging lawmakers to consider more money for public schools and state services, either through higher taxes or reduced tax breaks, is scheduled for 10 a.m. on the front steps of the Capitol. Oregon Citizens for a Sound Economy, which opposes higher taxes, has scheduled a news conference for this afternoon.

05/15/2003
Giving Students a New Choice
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Press Release

Giving Students a New Choice

On May 9, the U.S. House of Representatives Government Reform Committee held a hearing on alternative schools and educational reform in the District of Columbia. Legislators heard from various witnesses who testified on H.R. 684, the “D.C. School Choice Act of 2003” sponsored by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) supports this sensible reform measure, which would increase significantly parents’ control over their children’s education.

05/14/2003
School Choice Comes to Washington
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Press Release

School Choice Comes to Washington

Dear Legislator: On May 9, the U.S. House of Representatives Government Reform Committee held a hearing on alternative schools and educational reform in the District of Columbia. Legislators heard from various witnesses who testified on H.R. 684, the “D.C. School Choice Act of 2003” sponsored by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) supports this sensible reform measure, and on behalf of the 280,000 members of CSE, I urge you to support this bill, which would increase significantly parents’ control over their children’s education.

05/14/2003
Texas 'Chicken D's' Need to End Walk-Out
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Press Release

Texas 'Chicken D's' Need to End Walk-Out

Texas CSE’s motto is “government goes to those who show up” but democracy doesn’t work if our elected officials fail to show up. Our political system does not work if the minority runs when it comes time to vote.

05/14/2003
Media Advisory: Texas Press Conference on Legislator Walk-Out
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Press Release

Media Advisory: Texas Press Conference on Legislator Walk-Out

Organizations representing over 500,000 Texas citizens are holding a press conference at 10 am Wednesday, May 14, 2003, in front of the Texas Capitol, to discuss legislation which will likely be killed if the House does not have a quorum by Thursday. Where: Capitol, South side, on street at 11th and Cong. Ave When: 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 14, 2003

05/14/2003
Texas Chicken D’s: Quorum Busters
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Press Release

Texas Chicken D’s: Quorum Busters

Texas CSE’s motto is “government goes to those who show up” but democracy doesn’t work if our elected officials fail to show up. Our political system does not work if the minority runs when it comes time to vote. These “Chicken D’s” antics are costing taxpayer money – and time is running out and wasted tax dollars are adding up. This walk-out is costing us every day enough to educate one Texas schoolchild, and a special session will cost us $1.5 million a day – money needed for education, for health care and roads.

05/14/2003
Outgunned, Texas Democrats Vamoose With Rangers on Their Trail
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Outgunned, Texas Democrats Vamoose With Rangers on Their Trail

AUSTIN, Texas -- In an act of political subterfuge, at least 53 Democratic legislators packed their bags, disappeared from the Capitol and apparently scattered across the Southwest on Monday as Texas Rangers searched for them, bringing a divisive legislative session to an abrupt halt. Under state law, Republicans -- who control the governor's mansion, the state Senate and the state House for the first time since the 19th century -- need 100 of 150 legislators on the floor of the House before they can conduct the people's business.

05/13/2003

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