I DON'T WANT TO PAY: Rebecca Friedrichs doesn't want to pay for collective bargaining.

Teachers pay price for leaving union

By  |  August 21, 2014  |  No Comments

Opting out of supporting the teachers union’s political lobbying lands California teachers without professional liability insurance or a contract vote, even though they’re paying for collective bargaining.

SEEING DOUBLE: An election-watch group says 14,646 people hold voter registrations in Maryland and in Fairfax County, Va.

14,646 duplicate voters flagged in Fairfax, Maryland

Voter Fraud  |  4:00 am

An election-integrity group is challenging the status of nearly 15,000 voters reportedly registered in both Fairfax County and Maryland.

CAMPAIGN CASH: Virginia's statewide races have a few funny — at least funny sounding — expenditures.

Special elections waste taxpayer money, Ohio legislators say

Ohio  |  4:00 am

Seven school issues on the August ballot cost Ohio taxpayers an estimated $84,000, and they said no to six of them, including two that suffered their fourth defeats.

That’s a waste, two members of the General Assembly say, which is why they want to eliminate special elections in February and August.

SIGN HERE: Hawaii Health Connector sign ups improved Hawaii's uninsured rate by 2.75 percent at a cost of $204 million, study shows.

Hawaii’s largest insurance provider pulls small business plans from health exchange

Hawaii  |  4:00 am

By Malia Zimmerman | Watchdog.org
HONOLULU — Hawaii’s health-care exchange, the Hawaii Health Connector, has taken another blow.
Hawaii Medical Service Association, the state’s largest health insurer, won’t participate in the Connector’s Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, as of January.
The connector, already under fire for being the most costly exchange in the nation, is left with just [...]

CORRUPTION TRIAL: Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, center, is the subject of a federal corruption trial. / Photo by Kathryn Watson

If convicted, McDonnell will likely lose hundreds of thousands in retirement benefits

Virginia  |  4:00 am

By Kathryn Watson | Watchdog.org, Virginia Bureau
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — If the jury in former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s federal corruption trial finds him guilty, he’ll probably lose his cushy retirement benefits thanks to a law that he helped enacted.
In March 2011, McDonnell, who championed himself as a reformer of the state’s underfunded pension system, signed a [...]

Photo by the Associated Press

Obama begs for donations as he expresses disgust over beheading

National  |  4:00 am

By M.D. Kittle | Watchdog.org

MADISON, Wis. – They say life goes on.

Apparently so does campaigning.

ANOTHER CHARITY CASE?
Bayside Market Place, the tony waterfront shopping, entertainment and dining area located smack dab in the middle of Miami’s coveted downtown has enjoyed below-market rent for almost 30 years. 
(Photo source: Flickr.com)

Miami voters to decide fate of Bayside Marketplace expansion

Florida  |  4:00 am

For the past 30 years, the tony waterfront shopping, entertainment and dining area smack dab in the middle of Miami’s coveted downtown has been paying below-market rent for its prime location.

Watchdog file photo

Walker administration saves taxpayers $134 million in fraud fight

Wisconsin  |  4:00 am

By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON, Wis. – The fight against government waste, fraud and abuse has intensified under Gov. Scott Walker.

The Walker administration on Wednesday announced that the state Department of Revenue over the past four tax seasons has stopped $134 million in tax refunds related to fraud and adjustments.

PHOTO BY: Steve Wilson

Outdoorsmen get better deal than school kids on sales tax holidays

Mississippi  |  11:56 am

Senate Bill 2425, if you believed its Republican supporters in the Mississippi Legislature and Gov. Phil Bryant, was the best of both worlds.

AP file photo

VT spends $20K per special-needs student as enrollment trends higher

Vermont  |  August 20, 2014

Vermont’s student population has declined sharply in recent years, but the number of special education students receiving individualized instruction has remained high, and appears to be on the rise — at a cost of $20,000 per-pupil.

ETHICS ANYONE? Tallahassee Mayor John Marks opposes new ethics reforms despite a history of questionable dealings.

Florida’s capital city sues to keep ethics reform off November ballot

Florida  |  August 20, 2014

When it comes to ethics reform, Florida’s capital city isn’t exactly leading by example. But don’t blame state lawmakers. This time, it’s city government.

SPECIAL REPORT

VIDEOS

PLAIN ENGLISH: While Gov. Sam Brownback has been characterized as uncaring in his opposition to Obamacare, the governor says it's a simple matter of fiscal prudence for those who realize the federal government doesn't always keep its promises.

Video: Brownback states plainly why Medicaid expansion hurts Kansas

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Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has been on the business end of numerous barbs and critiques for taking a stand against Obamacare and Medicaid expansion in the Sunflower State.

Those with unwavering faith in the federal government have characterized the conservative governor as an uncaring obstructionist for his opposition, but in an exclusive interview with the Daily Signal, Brownback laid out the argument against Obamacare in his own words.

little free library

Leawood throws the book at Little Free Library

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The city of Leawood is using the full power of the law to protect property values from the threat of, uh, free cabinet-sized libraries.

A municipal statute designed to ban all detached structures is being levied against Leawood residents Brian and Sarah Collins after their 9-year-old son, Spencer, worked with his dad and grandpa to build the Little Free Library as a Mother’s Day gift.

WATCHBLOG

 |  Virginia

By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org 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 | Watchdog.org
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 | Watchdog.org
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

FROM AROUND THE WEB

By Brian Hughes | Washington Examiner
Unrest over the police shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Mo., has completely overshadowed President Obama‘s domestic priorities, the latest in a string of crises that have derailed the president’s agenda.
First, violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Gaza and Ukraine put Obama’s preferred “nation building at home” on the back burner. A two-week vacation in Martha’s Vineyard that the [...]

Obama’s domestic agenda overshadowed by unrest in Ferguson

By James Poulos | Cal Watchdog
A California Senate committee wants to quadruple the entertainment industry subsidies keeping production in Hollywood.
With a unanimous vote, the appropriations committee passed a $300 million increase in tax credits for film and television, bringing the size of the controversial program up to $400 million. Assembly Bill 1839 is coauthored by Assemblymen Raul Bocanegra, D-Pacoima, and Mike [...]

CA Senate pushes $400M additional tax credits for Hollywood

By Jacob Sullum | Reason
Running for the U.S. Senate in 2010, Rand Paul became known as that crazy right-winger who expressed reservations about the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But in the last two years, the Kentucky Republican has emerged as his party’s most passionate voice on criminal justice reform, explicitly decrying the system’s disproportionate impact on [...]

Rand Paul redefines his views on civil rights, criminal justice reform

By Glen Morgan | Freedom Foundation
The most terrifying aspect of reading the depositions of the Thurston County commissioners and senior bureaucrats in the recent lawsuit brought against Thurston County by Maytown Sand and Gravel and the Port of Tacoma is the realization that there are no adults in charge of Thurston County.
To review, Thurston County had issued a 20 year Conditional [...]

WA county’s political leaders act childish, taxpayers lose millions

By Susan Crabtree | Washington Examiner
Fear that body cameras would infringe privacy rights may thwart congressional efforts to reform policing in the wake of riots in Ferguson, Mo.
A key Democratic author of legislation to reduce the militarization of police forces says dashboard cameras for police are OK, but worries that body cameras may go too far.
After protests over [...]

Privacy rights may trump transparency as Congress debates Ferguson policing

By Tom Gantert | Michigan Capitol Confidential
Nearly four out of five students in the bottom 5 percent of schools in the Michigan Department of Education’s Top-To-Bottom Ratings for 2013-14 were eligible for the federal governments free or reduced-price lunch program.
Only about 11 percent of the students in the top 5 percent of schools in those rankings were [...]

MI school rankings focus more on race and income than performance

By News 21 Staff
Twenty months after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, some would say little has changed when it comes to guns in America.
Others would say everything has.
Flurries of gun-related legislation and renewed national attention on the topic have not been enough to change federal gun laws. The National [...]

Advocates for gun control and gun rights at national standoff

By Mark Kilmer | The Arkansas Project
When you think of unsafe children’s products, you probably don’t think of books. Outside of our one-year-old smacking me in the head with one of his board books, I have a difficult time imagining a less threatening product than a children’s book. Why, then, did Senator Mark Pryor’s child safety legislation [...]

Arkansas senator saves kids from the dangers of old books

By Kathy Hamilton | Cal Watchdog
On Aug. 14, the three litigants in the case to halt California’s high-speed rail project, Kings County and two local residents, filed a Petition for Rehearing. They challenged the July 31 ruling against them by Sacramento’s 3rd District Court of Appeal. The ruling, which reversed a lower-court decision, greenlighted the [...]

California high-speed rail opponents want a rehearing