Monday’s Moments for July 1, 2013

A collection of miscellany for today. Today is the date a series of new state laws take affect across the country. The Senate, the dems and fifteen ‘pubs, passed their Illegal Alien Amnesty bill. The House rejected the Food Stamp and Pork bill with the help of democrats and Heritage Action for America had a presentation at a local Tea Party gathering.

Starting with the last item, last Friday night, Mrs. Crucis and I were invited to attend a Tea Party meeting where the regional Hertiage Action representative Ben Evans would be speaking. It was an interesting session. The HA representative was accompanied by the MOGOP Political Director, Steve Michael.

That, by itself, was an interesting connection. The Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action purport themselves to be non-establishment. The Missouri GOP is the establishment…at least at the state level. The question is, is Heritage Action supporting the establishment or is the MO GOP establishment distancing themselves from Washington?

The actual presentation was about what I expected. I did have my opinion confirmed that sending emails to our elected US Representatives and Senators was useless. At best, they are just counted. Some officials may tally by subject. A few, a very few apparently, may note the number of pros and cons on a subject. For the most part, emails, unless addressed to a specific staffer, go into the bit bucket. Unfortunately, the same applies for phone calls. Unless you connect to the specific staffer working the issue, your call is ignored.

Signing online petitions is worth even less. There are a few exceptions when the petitions are conducted by some lobbyists. They use the petitions to brow-beat pols into believing whatever position the lobbyist represents.

What does work? Personal visits and actual snail-mail letters according to Heritage Action. I have my doubts on the former. I’ve spoken several times with my local US representative on a number of issues. Regardless, she votes the Washington establishment line.

What did I take away from this meeting? Personal meetings and letters work for some but I’m not convinced it will be all that effective.

A woman at the meeting, in the Q&A session, asked if our ‘Pub representatives really understand how angry people are becoming. The answer? “No, they’re not.” Apparently, once in office, our representatives become isolated behind their hired staffers—staffers whose job it is to formulate policy and to isolate their boss from the public.

Many of these hired staffers are long-time members of the establishment. When a Congressman leaves office, they migrate to another Congressman. In their view, contrary positions from constituents are ignored and public trends are modified to support political positions of the Washington establishment. Establishment staffers insure inexperienced Congressmen toe the establishment line.

Not only do our officials not understand how angry people are, neither, I believe, do the Heritage Action rep and the MOGOP political director. My impression is that these two heard what they expected to hear.

I have been a Heritage Action member since it was created over a year ago. I will continue to be a member. Unfortunately, I’m coming to believe the Heritage Action leadership and by extension, the Heritage Foundation are behind the curve. Both the HA and HF believe in action by lobbying ‘Pub politicians. I no longer believe that tactic works.

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One aspect of the HA meeting was the Heritage Foundation scorecard of Missouri’s U.S. elected officials. I was surprised to hear that Billy Long, Congressman from Missouri’s 7th District had a score above 90%. The score reflected how consistent Billy Long voted on issues—conservative vs. non-conservative, as judged by the Heritage Foundation.

During the last primary, I heard a lot of criticism about Billy Long. I had no real basis to judge, I’m not in his district. In retrospect, if Billy Long was so bad, how did he acquire such a high score? I have some opinions why but those aren’t the subject of this post.

Newly elected Jason Smith (R-MO-8) who was recently replaced Jo Ann Emerson, had a very low score. Jason Smith had only voted once when the last scoreboard scores were calculated. He voted, “Yes,” on the Food Stamp bill, in contradiction of his campaign rhetoric. He campaigned that he’d vote, “No.” Jason, you disappoint me. In office a week and already you’ve already reneged on meeting your campaign promises to your constituents.

But, Jason Smith wasn’t alone. Every Representative in Missouri voted for that monstrous welfare bill—as did all the ‘Pubs from Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, and other midwestern states. It lost because 71 ‘Pubs, and the House dems (who wanted MORE welfare,) voted against the bill.

It’s a sad tale when we have to rely on dems to kill a wasteful bill. Yes, Jason Smith, disappointed me. I’d hoped you’d be more than just an establishment rubber-stamp.

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The Senate, with the help of 15 ‘Pub Senators, passed the Illegal Alien Amnesty bill—a bill masquerading as an immigration ‘reform’ bill. The primary spokesman for the ‘Gang of Eight’, Marco Rubio staked his political career on the vote and will likely now bear the consequences. Rubio used the Tea Party to get elected. I doubt the Tea Party members in Florida will repeat their mistake.

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Today is July 1st and across the country new laws take effect. Here’s a summary.

Around the nation, July 1 marks the start of new fiscal years and the date recently passed legislation goes into effect, although states often mark their independence by enacting new regulations on their own calendars.

The laws and effective dates vary somewhat from state to state, but an overview of legislation set to hit the books July 1st shows that state lawmakers took positions on the following five topics of national debate:

– GUNS: State legislatures across the U.S. discussed gun laws in the wake of mass shootings that shocked the nation in 2012. Most efforts to pass restrictions faded amid fierce opposition. Only a handful of states enacted new limits, some of which go into effect Monday. Among them Colorado is notable for requiring background checks for private and online gun sales and outlawing high-capacity ammunition magazines. At least 18 states, however, have gone the other way and loosened gun laws. Kansas laws set to take effect will allow schools to arm employees with concealed handguns and ensure that weapons can be carried into more public buildings.

– TECH: Dozens of states examined technology laws. Recently passed legislation in eight states will prevent businesses from demanding passwords to social media sites as a condition of employment. The law in Washington state also stops employers from compelling workers to add managers as “friends” so their profile can be viewed. Four states updated tech laws to allow drivers to show proof of car insurance on an electronic device, such as a smartphone.

– CARS: A handful of states have restricted cellphone use while driving. Starting Monday in Hawaii and West Virginia motorists will have to put down handheld devices. Meanwhile, in South Dakota beginning drivers will face similar restrictions. Utah also enacted limits for newbies with a law that has already taken effect. A few states have banned texting while driving. Other state laws affecting drivers will make it illegal to smoke in a car with a child, raise highway speed limits, crackdown on drunken drivers and raise gas taxes. NOTE: in Kansas, texting in an automobile is illegal even when the auto is stopped or not moving.

– ABORTION: Nationally, state lawmakers proposed more than 300 bills that would have restricted abortions, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. At least 13 state legislatures passed new limits, though two are waiting for governors to sign off. Notably, a bill that would have closed almost every abortion clinic in Texas was defeated by a Democratic filibuster and a restless crowd in late June. The Texas governor, however, has ordered another special legislative session to push the bill through. North Dakota has passed the nation’s strictest abortion law, which takes effect in August, banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

-DRONES: An Idaho law taking effect Monday forbids anyone from using an unmanned aircraft for spying on another. Virginia has passed a ban preventing authorities from using drones for the next two years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Four other states approved anti-drone regulations, though legislation aimed at law enforcement in Texas isn’t effective until fall.

Not all of the measures set to take effect were matters dominating national political discussion. The following five examples of recently approved legislation show state-level updates can cover a variety of topics:

– SEXIST LANGUAGE: Washington lawmakers are completing work to strip the state’s books of sexist language. References to “his” will be changed to “his or her,” college “freshmen” will become “first-year students” and “penmanship” will be called “handwriting.”

– JACKPOT: Wyoming residents might soon consider 7, 1 and 13 as lucky numbers. A Cowboy State law kicking in Monday calls for the state to establish a lottery for the first time, leaving a dwindling list of only a handful of states without such a prize drawing.

– ELECTION DAY DRINKING: Kentucky has lifted a ban on election day drinking. It was one of the last states with Prohibition-era restrictions on the sale of alcohol while polls are open.

– EDIBLE LANDSCAPING: Maine lawmakers this session have directed officials to plant edible landscaping, such as fruit trees or berry shrubs, around the Statehouse.

– TANNING: Dozens of states this year considered keeping minors out of tanning beds. New Jersey and Nevada restrictions kick in July 1, and an Oregon limit takes effect in January.