You just paid your taxes, America, and this is what you bought

By  |  April 15, 2014  |  No Comments

By Andrew Collins |
Uncle Sam thanks you.

An $876,752 study on snail sex

A University of Iowa study is trying to figure out if it’s better for snails to reproduce sexually or asexually.

A $16 million tropical vacation

That was the final price tag on President Obama’s most recent holiday vacations to Hawaii and Africa.

A $750,000 study on how kid cartoons contribute [...]

SHOCK AND AWE: The Hobbs, N.M., Police Department is looking for a few bad asses to join their ranks.

Raid and shoot: This ain’t your grandpa’s PD

New Mexico  |  April 15, 2014

By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog
SANTA FE, N.M. — It’s a commercial that’s been playing across New Mexico for weeks now: A 30-second spot encouraging people to apply to the Hobbs Police Department, offering high pay and good benefits.
But the images in the commercial — of  cops shooting guns, helmeted officers bursting into a home, an [...]

DANCE AND TAXES: In Iowa, some prom expenses qualify for a tax break under the  Tuition and Textbook Credit, because the state considers prom a textbook-related activity.
Photo credit: Joe-3PO

In Iowa, go to prom, get a tax credit

Iowa  |  April 15, 2014

By Paul Brennan | Iowa Watchdog
DES MONIES, Iowa — Some of that huge sum your kid shamed you into blowing on prom is eligible for a state tax credit, although nobody is quite sure just what you can claim.
If you look as carefully into the Iowa tax code as Joe Kristan, a certified public accountant [...]


The opposite of paying it forward: Borrowing for municipal pensions

Illinois  |  April 15, 2014

The idea of paying it forward is simple.
I do something that costs me, so the people who follow me have an easier time of things; whether it’s paying for someone else’s coffee, cleaning up a junk-riddled creek or cutting government spending to make sure a city doesn’t collapse.

SOCIAL INSECURITY: Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Plano, wants answers about withheld tax refunds.

IRS holds refunds to recover parents’ Social Security

Texas  |  April 15, 2014

On this April 15, and every other day, the IRS is seizing millions of dollars of alleged Social Security overpayments from children of dead beneficiaries.

AP photo

UAW subpoenas TN officials to prove ‘bullying’ in Volkswagen factory

Tennessee  |  April 15, 2014

By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog
NASHVILLE — Tennessee officials offered $300 million to Volkswagen of Chattanooga last year, and some people say it was an attempt to keep the United Auto Workers out of the factory, and, subsequently, out of the state.
Gov. Bill Haslam reportedly made the offer in secret, and no one other than top [...]

NEW SOURCE OF EMPLOYEES: Under the proposed policy, the Beaumont Independent School District would “perform an individualized assessment” of the applicant’s criminal history and the context of the crimes in order to sort out desirable felons from the undesirable.

Governor silent on felons’ voting rights, so law students speak up

Virginia  |  April 15, 2014

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has so far been quiet about restoring voting rights for felons, but students in the law school at William & Mary College are stepping in.

POOR STATE: Vermont offers little economic hope according to a new report on state fiscal policy.

Poor state: Vermont on skid row when it comes to economic outlook

Vermont  |  April 15, 2014

If lawmakers don’t do something soon, fed-up Vermonters may just pack their things and head to Utah. That’s because Vermont has one of the worst economic outlooks in the nation according to new report that ranks states on economic competitiveness, while Utah has one of the best. When it comes to tax and regulatory policies that produce economic growth, Vermont ranks 49th in the nation. The ranking appears in the 2014 Rich States, Poor States report released Tuesday by the American Legislative Exchange Council.

RACIST FRIENDS: Frazier Glenn Miller, accused of killing three people at a Jewish community center in Kansas City, has described himself as a "friend" of notorious North Dakota white supremacist Craig Cobb.

Kansas City shooting suspect says he’s a ‘proud terrorist’

North Dakota  |  9:31 am

By Rob Port | North Dakota Bureau
FARGO, N.D. — Frazier Glenn Miller, AKA Frazier Glenn Cross, didn’t often hide his feelings.
Miller,  accused of shootings at a Jewish community center in Kansas City that left three dead, called a talk radio show in Fargo last year to support North Dakota white supremacist Craig Cobb and described [...]

Gov. Scott Walker has proposed a $343 million income tax break, ostensibly aimed at middle-class taxpayers and intended to stimulate the economy. Critics, though, said in reality, the proposal does little of either.

North Carolina dominates Virginia in economic outlook report

Virginia  |  April 15, 2014

Virginia lawmakers don’t like to bring it up, but her neighbor to the south is outdoing the Old Dominion — at least, when it comes to economic prospects.

DISTRACTED ENFORCEMENT: North Dakota law enforcement officials are making a big show of enforcing the state's distracted driving laws during April's Distracted Driving Awareness month, but statistics show distracted driving becuase of cell phone use to be a small percentage of all crashes.

Distracted driving gets big enforcement in ND, but is it really a problem?

North Dakota  |  8:45 am

By now you’ve probably read the articles and seen the commercials. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and in North Dakota law enforcement officials are making a big deal out of it.




Is the mainstream media being unfair to Obamacare?

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By Adam Tobias | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON, Wis. — Need a good laugh?
Check out what MSNBC host Ed Schultz had to say Monday about the mainstream media’s handling of Obamacare.
Trust me, you’ll want to sit down for this one.

Contrary to Schultz’s claims, a major Gallup survey released Monday indicates that sign-ups through the Affordable Care Act are [...]


By Kenric Ward | Virginia Bureau
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – State Delegate Barbara Comstock is inflating her energy record to pump up her congressional bid.
The McLean Republican’s congressional campaign webpage declares that she “authored Virginia’s law to allow for offshore exploration of energy.”
In fact, Comstock’s “major legislation” did no such thing. Her 2010 bill, HB 900, [...]

Comstock goes overboard with offshore energy claim

 |  Texas

While taxpayers were picking up the tab for intensive, outpatient care for mentally ill patients, those patients were playing games and watching movies.

Medicare fraud: $97 million for mentally ill patients to watch movies, play games

By Josh Peterson |
State public utilities regulators are calling for an easy way for consumers to compare complaints against the nation’s phone companies.
Currently, consumers can file complaints about their telecommunications service with the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, but those complaints aren’t publicly available in an online format for consumers.
On Wednesday, Chris [...]

Regulators push for public database of complaints against phone companies

 |  Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has saved almost $2 billion staving off welfare fraud, waste and abuse under Gov. Tom Corbett, said Beverly Mackereth, the secretary of the state’s Department of Public Welfare.

DPW chief: PA saves billions fighting welfare fraud

 |  Montana

By Dustin Hurst |
For some, ignorance is bliss, but for Democrat Jon Tester, it’s an important campaign tactic.
Sure, the second-term senator from Montana isn’t up for re-election until 2018, but that won’t stop him from using disingenuous attacks on the wealthy to scare his constituents into sending him campaign cash.
“Today, it looks like the billionaire Koch [...]

Tester launches disingenuous attack on the Koch brothers

 |  Pennsylvania

With no debate and a nearly party-line vote, the state House passed a bill that eliminates a loophole in the law state defining the crime of stalking.

PA House approves ‘stalking’ bill

Section 7


By Glynis Kazanjian | Maryland Reporter
Voters may get to skip the lines at the polls this summer by receiving and marking their ballots online, but election officials must first decide if the convenience outweighs the security risks.
The State Board of Elections will vote this month on using a new online ballot marking system, which includes [...]

MD absentee ballots moving online causes security concerns

By James Poulos | Cal Watchdog
The California State Teachers’ Retirement System just announced it faces $73.7 billion in long-term liabilities. Left untouched, that would spell bankruptcy in 2043.
For critics of California’s public-employee pensions programs, the grim numbers heighten the urgency for reform. If CalSTRS wants to address its shortfall, it has to get legislative approval.
CalSTRS is the product of a contract [...]

CA teachers’ retirement unfunded liability hits new high

By Tom Gantert | Michigan Capitol Confidential
While some are pitching a storyline in Detroit of a bankrupt city in need of more revenue, the city already collects hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes that no other city can.
The state allows only Detroit to collect a “utility users’ tax” and a casino “wagering tax” that combined accounted [...]

Special deals allow Detroit to collect hundreds of millions in extra revenue

By Jami Lund | Freedom Foundation
April 3-5 was the Washington Education Associations “Representative Assembly” where the most ardent union supporters gather for a few days of union business.
On the agenda every year is an opportunity for participants to vote on position statements and action items for the union. Here are seven interesting items that passed [...]

Washington teachers union endorses ‘parent choice’

By Rick Brundrett | The Nerve
It appears that arguably the most powerful lawmaker in the South Carolina General Assembly would hold his title if his colleagues voted today.
Nine House members, both Republicans and Democrats, who were interviewed Friday by The Nerve said that for now, they would vote to re-elect House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, as the [...]

SC House members stand by embattled speaker

By Jack Spencer | Michigan Capitol Confidential
Voters in Osceola County’s Sherman Township have overturned regulations for wind turbines in referendums twice in recent years. That was enough to make Heritage Sustainable Energy give up on plans to locate wind turbines there.
Now, Next Era Energy wants to locate wind turbines in the township and local officials [...]

Michigan community tilts at wind farms

By Jeremy Bauer-Wolf | Maryland Reporter
Zooming down the highway late one night, a man is exhausted, not really paying attention to the speed limit. His friend accidentally left a small baggie of marijuana in his car, along with some paper to roll it into joints, which sits in a tiny pile on the passenger seat.
Police [...]

Marijuana paraphernalia a sticky issue under new MD bill

By Dan Greenberg | The Arkansas Project
You might recall that one of the selling points of the “private” option was market competition. Competition among insurance carriers was going to lower prices and improve the quality of services. Indeed, the actuaries who estimated the costs of the “private” option relied on the low prices that competition would create. [...]

Arkansas’ ‘private’ option has a competition vacuum

By Joseph Perkins | Cal Watchdog
What a long strange trip it’s been for the Pebble Beach Company since it unveiled its Del Monte Forest development plan all the way back in 1987.
In the ensuing 27 years, PBC has revised its plan innumerable times only to have state regulators or local government bodies block the company from breaking [...]

Why California has an affordable housing crisis