Home / Politics / This week at progressive state blogs: Duke Energy rips off ratepayers; 'Silence of the Wolves' in TX

This week at progressive state blogs: Duke Energy rips off ratepayers; 'Silence of the Wolves' in TX

At The Last Ogle of Oklahoma, Patrick writes—New TV Ads Go “Reefer Madness” on SQ 788…

Over the past week, Anti-SQ 788 campaign ads that portray medical marijuana to be way more cool and fun than it actually is hit TV airwaves across Oklahoma.

The Last Ogle, stateblogs,

According to tabloid media reports, the ads “are part of a $433,000 media buy” that’s being funded by a hodgepodge collective of oil overlords, medical and law enforcement groups, chamber lackeys and stodgy moralist holy rollers. You know, the standard mix of local authoritarian power brokers who know what’s best for you and your body, and demand you live your life according to their antiquated, mid-20th century values.

As expected, the ads are comically negative, and spread absurd lies and unfounded fears about SQ 788 in a desperate effort to get uninformed white Christian church-going folk to vote against it. They’re going this route because lies and fear are the only legitimate reasons to be against medical marijuana. Unless you abstain from all drugs, there’s not a rational argument to be made against medical marijuana without looking like a totally hypocrite.

Here’s the commercial in case you haven’t seen it:

To all of my friends who live out-of-state, I swear that is not satirical. That’s a real commercial that airs on real television in Oklahoma City. Ignoring the blatant lies, I think my favorite part is how the ads inadvertently give stoners and college students more reasons to Vote Yes.

Dakota Free Press

At Dakota Free PressCory Allen Heidelberger writes—Trump Wants Space Force, Needs English Lessons:

Donald Trump today ordered the Pentagon to create a “Space Force” as a sixth branch of the military. When we signed the Outer Space Treaty in 1967, we agreed not to send weapons of mass destruction into space or use the Moon, Mars, and other celestial bodies (asteroids! comets!) for “military bases, installations, and fortifications, the testing of any type of weapons and the conduct of military maneuvers.” But hey! If the federal government is serious about dedicating resources to vital functions like clearing space junk and coordinating space traffic (which was the focus of the Space Policy Directive Trump signed today) and sending rockets to other worlds to create more human habitat (which should be humanity’s #1 policy priority in this millennium), then I’m all for creating a corps of brave American rocket jockeys (which isn’t mentioned in the signed directive, but oh well, such is government by improv) who will zoom around space saving Earthling space travelers from collisions, rocket malfunctions, Moonquakes, Klingons, and whatever else could go wrong in the wild black yonder.

Screen_Shot_2018-06-21_at_9.32.59_PM.png

The improvisational nature of Trump’s Space Corps announcement (and, what, can we not call it Starfleet and base it in San Francisco?) is made clear by a review of the official White House transcript, a nine-page pastiche of ad-libbed comments, pronouns without antecedent, tired Trumpian hyperbole, and a sprinkling of crafted phrases that someone told him to include somewhere in his remarks to make the space policy directive sound Presidential.

I have marked up that transcript as I would a high school English essay. My green inkings support two primary criticisms:

  1. The speaker is unable to get to and stick to his main point, that a more vigorous national space policy is vital to America’s interests.
  2. Whether discussing his main thesis or unrelated topics, the speaker fails to use specific nouns or give specific details and examples to develop any of his ideas.

At Bold Nebraska, Mark Hefflinger writes—Tribes, Landowners, and Climate Groups Expand Campaign to Build Solar Inside Keystone XL Pipeline Route:

Lower Brule, South Dakota — Today, an Indigenous-led coalition of pipeline fighters launched the next phase of their campaign, called “Solar XL,” to install solar panels along the route of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. The solar panels, to be installed in Nebraska and South Dakota, will help power the homes, farms, and Indigenous spirit camps of communities resisting the pipeline. This clean & renewable energy project stands in contrast to the threat posed by Keystone XL to land and water, Indigenous rights, and the climate. The coalition behind the Solar XL includes the Indigenous Environmental Network, Native Organizers Alliance, Brave Heart Society, Dakota Rural Action, Bold Nebraska, and 350.org. The campaign will be supported through crowdfunding.

Bold Nebraska

This effort builds upon the Solar XL campaign that supported solar installations in Nebraska last summer, on land that farmers and ranchers in the state would’ve been forced to give up to TransCanada. Shortly after in November of last year, Nebraska’s Public Service Commission (PSC) approved an alternate route for Keystone XL, which Tribes, farmers, and ranchers continue to challenge in court. These new installations along the pipeline’s alternate route will include additional solar arrays on Nebraska farmland and mobile solar units built on unceded Indigenous territory near the Yankton Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux Reservations in South Dakota.

The Keystone XL pipeline continues to face challenges in court, including an appeal filed by tribes Nebraska landowners and against the PSC decision and a federal lawsuit against Trump’s “presidential permit” for the project.  […]

The solar arrays and mobile solar units built through Solar XL will not only provide renewable energy and demonstrate the fossil-free world we need, they will be part of resistance efforts as signers of the “Promise to Protect” rise up to defend them if necessary. Solar energy has been a powerful tool in Native-led efforts to put renewable energy solutions in the path of the problem, from the Lubicon Solar Project near Alberta’s tar sands, to the solar-powered ‘tiny homes’ in the path of the Trans Mountain pipeline in British Columbia, to the Lakota Solar Enterprise bringing clean energy sovereignty to Indian country. If TransCanada moves forward with construction of Keystone XL, thousands of people are ready to defend the renewable solar energy built in it’s path.

At Bleeding Heartland of Iowa, John Morrissey writes—Iowa Medicaid spending balloons by $400 million:

Despite promises of huge annual cost savings resulting from Medicaid privatization, Iowa’s medical assistance programs spent more in eleven months of the current fiscal year than during all of the previous fiscal year.

Bleeding Heartland

The portion of Medicaid funds paid to managed care organizations (MCOs) at the end of this May increased by $394 million compared to May 2017. The “Fiscal YTD Expenditures by Category of Service” report, published on the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) website each month, tracks 74 spending categories. MCO spending, which is running a little more than 9 percent higher so far this year, is tracked on its own line. The remaining 73 expense categories net out to a spending decrease of $10 million compared to May of last year. […]

The health insurance companies who contracted with the state under privatization have been complaining the rates they agreed to were not sufficient to pay the claims they received since the program began. Incomplete financial accounting published by the Iowa Medicaid Enterprise on its website shows the three MCOs that were active during the 2017 fiscal year received $3.6 billion in capitation payments from the state, but suffered uncompensated losses of $457 million when paying for Medicaid services.

The bad news about Iowa’s Medicaid program costs comes even as total enrollment has been rising during the current fiscal year, according to monthly enrollment reports published on the DHS website. About 5,100 more children are covered by the HAWK-I program, and nearly 18,000 more by the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan, compared to July 2017. Traditional Medicaid enrollment has held steady.

At Blue Virginia, lowkell writes—Greene County Republican Committee Unanimously Censures VA GOP Sen. Emmett Hanger for His Forceful Leadership On Medicaid Expansion:

To Democrats, Virginia State Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-24) is a champion for his tireless, heroic role in pushing through Medicaid expansion this session. But for hard-right Republicans, like the Green County Republican Committee (GCRC; see below for their resolution, passed unanimously this Monday, and at this link), Hanger’s work was a “continued disservice to our Commonwealth, the cause of the Republican Party of Virginia, and the principles which our Party claims to adhere to.” Furthermore, the GCRC “requests similar motions to censure Senator Hanger be brought forward to the Republican 24th Senatorial Legislative District Committee, the State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia, the Senate Republican Caucus, and other Republican Unit Committees across Virginia” AND “requests Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment immediately strip Senator Hanger from his position as Co-Chair of the Senate Finance Committee for his inexcusable vote.” In sum, GCRC now has “no confidence in Senator Hanger’s abilities to continue to represent the voters of Greene County, Virginia.”

Blue Virginia blog

The thing is, Hanger’s district is overwhelmingly Republican, but it’s certainly possible that Hanger could be primaried from his right. We’ll see, first of all, whether this mini-rebellion spreads beyond Greene County, perhaps to the largest counties in Hanger’s State Senate district (Augusta County, Rockingham County).

The broader question, beyond Hanger, is whether other Medicaid-expansion-supporting Virginia Republicans, perhaps in more “purple” districts, might also be primaried from their right. Or will votes for Medicaid expansion actually end up helping Republicans in “purple” or “blue-ish” districts, like Sen. Frank Wagner, Del. David Yancey, Del. Bob Thomas, Del. Chris Stolle, Del. Rob Bloxom, etc? Something to keep an eye on as we head towards 2019 Virginia General Assembly elections…

At MN Progressive Project, Dan Burns writes—MN lege: GOPers love that nitrate-contaminated water:

Because to not go with one final piece of petty, infantile crap – and a piece that is bad for public health, at that – just is not in Minnesota legislative Republicans’ playbook. A**holes to the end.

A new state rule aimed at reducing groundwater contamination by farm fertilizers could be delayed by a legislative move made formal on Monday…

MN Progressive Project

The so-called Groundwater Protection Rule has been several years in the making and looks to reduce the amount of nitrogen reaching groundwater aquifers, which many Minnesotans rely on for their drinking water. In delaying the rule, the Legislature tapped an obscure 2001 law that appears to put a check on administrative rules by giving the next Legislature a chance to weigh in on it in 2019.

But Dayton said he has instructed the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to proceed as planned and has called the Legislature’s move unconstitutional.

It’s possible the matter will end up in court. On Monday, Dayton reiterated that he thinks the Legislature overstepped its bounds.
(MPR)

It’s important to understand that those referenced above would quite honestly view my remarks as unfair and offensive, if they saw them. Their motivated reasoning is such that they really do see themselves, in this, as heroically “combating government overreach” and “letting the markets work.” After all, Almighty Reagan would approve. So would Donald Trump.

My gut feeling, based on nothing specific, is that this one doesn’t really stink of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), either. I figure they did it on their own.

At Washington Liberals, Don Smith writes—Tim Steyer, impeachment, and saving America:

I went to a Town Hall meeting in Seattle last night to hear hedge fund billionaire and progressive activist Tom Steyer call for support in his project to impeach Donald Trump.

Steyer briefly sketched the case for impeachment. Almost the entire meeting was taken up by his responding to questions from the audience, which packed an old, deteriorating warehouse in the Sodo district of South Seattle.

There was plenty of free food. Outside the hall, there was a Trump supporter holding a “Trump 2020” sign.

state blogs, washington liberals

Steyer admitted that unless the Democrats take back the House in November, the chances of impeachment are very slim.  But even most Democrats seem uninterested in pursuing impeachment against Trump — the only Washington State U.S. House member to support Al Green’s impeachment resolution was Pramila Jayapal. Many Democrats think impeachment efforts are likely to backfire, as they apparently did for Republicans when they tried to impeach Bill Clinton.   Likewise, Patty Murray and Jay Inslee asked members of the Washington State legislature to stop their efforts to impeach George W. Bush.

Steyer said that impeachment will happen only if the American people rise up and demand an end to the dangerous presidency of Donald Trump

But 42% of Americans apparently support Trump, whose approval rating has been increasing.  The Republicans tax plan pumped hundreds of billions of dollars into the economy, largely into the pockets of rich people and corporations who will fund propaganda to convince the public to support the GOP and Trump. If Trump manages to make peace with North Korea, no matter at what price, GOP prospects will be brighter.

At  BlueNC, scharrison writes—Trump’s EO will create numerous “family” detention centers:

Out of the fire and into the frying pan:

Trump’s executive order directs the attorney general to promptly file a request with U.S. District Judge Dolly Gree in the Central District of California to modify the Flores Settlement and allow detained migrant families to be held together “throughout the pendency of criminal proceedings … or other immigration proceedings.”

The president directed Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to maintain custody of detained families during criminal proceedings and as their asylum claims are adjudicated. Also, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and the heads of other agencies are ordered to find or construct facilities to house the detained families. Finally, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is directed to prioritize the adjudication of cases involving detained families.

BlueNC.jpg

“Finding” such facilities won’t be that difficult, considering all the big-box retail stores like Wal-Mart that were closed and virtually abandoned. No doubt many developers and banks holding the notes on these dinosaurs are rubbing their hands together in glee, anticipating that monthly lease payment. And of course these people will have to be fed, so there’s a lot of money to be made there, too. And as for those 2,000+ children already caged up, this order does absolutely nothing for them:

[…] “The president doesn’t get any Brownie points for moving from a policy of locking up kids and families separately to a policy of locking them up together,” said Karen Tumlin, director of legal strategy at the National Immigration Law Center. “Let’s be clear: Trump is making a crisis of his own creation worse.”

Of course he’s making it worse. That’s all he knows how to do. Every (single) time he tells his Twitter followers he’s getting ready to take some action on a problem, especially if he says that pending action will be “great” or “beautiful” or whatever, you can bet his “solution” is going to be worse than said problem.

At Appalachian Voices, Brian Sewell writes—Duke Energy’s grid modernization pilot still shortchanges ratepayers:

If Duke Energy had its way, it would already have the green light for a plan to charge customers $7.8 billion over the next decade to make upgrades to the electric grid. Instead, the monopoly utility is hoping North Carolina regulators sign off on a compromise it reached with a narrow set of stakeholders for a $2.5 billion three-year pilot version of the plan.

state blogs

The deal — struck between Duke Energy subsidiary Duke Energy Carolinas, Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club and the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association — only became public at the beginning of June and a decision from the N.C. Utilities Commission is expected any day. Still, the pushback from consumer advocates has been swift and continues to grow.

Appalachian Voices is joining its allies in North Carolina by calling on the commission to reject the settlement as harmful to ratepayers. […]

From a clean energy perspective, the compromise is without a doubt an improvement compared to Duke’s initial plan; it includes significant investments in battery storage and electric vehicle charging stations. And the bulk of the company’s desired plan — burying power lines — is limited in the compromise to five demonstration projects totaling $50 million. Ratepayers would still pony up for the pilot program through a new charge, known as a “rider,” on their electric bill. The rider would still result in annual rate hikes and a reliable revenue stream for Duke.

But in recent weeks opponents have raised concerns relating to both the process and substance behind the proposed pilot. Our friends at Southern Environmental Law Center wrote a letter on behalf of North Carolina Justice Center, North Carolina Housing Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy urging the Commission to reject the deal.

At Plunderbund of Ohio, Joseph writes—Not One Penny: The TrumpTax Is Hurting Ohio Families:

As the 2018 cycle unfolds, pay attention to the progressive group Not One Penny.  According to Axios, the group has some deep pockets, and it will be spending a part of its cash on the race in Ohio’s 1st congressional district between Aftab Pureval and Steve Chabot.

Plunderbund blog logo

With Vice President Mike Pence in Columbus today, Not One Penny’s spokesman Tim Hogan took the opportunity to remind Ohioans about the impact of the Trump administration’s policies.

“Thanks to Donald Trump and congressional Republicans, 433,100 Ohioans will lose their health insurance due to their continuous efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act,” wrote Hogan.  “Passing a tax bill that prioritizes the wealthiest individuals and corporations at the expense of working families hasn’t helped Ohio families and Mike Pence should face that reality.”

Not One Penny also released the following “key facts on the impacts of the TrumpTax in Ohio”:

  • There have been 8,582 layoffs announced in Ohio since the GOP tax law passed.

  • Next year, the average tax cut for bottom 60 percent of Ohioans next year will be $420.

  • Next year, the average tax cut for top 1 percent of Ohioans will be $47,510.

  • 1,020,130 Ohioans will see no tax cut next year.

  • 433,100 Ohioans will lose health insurance due to Republican sabotage of the Affordable Care Act.


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