Urgent: Nevada Senate Hearing on Bills to Expand Voting Rights Tomorrow

Tomorrow, Assembly Bills 440 and 441 will have a hearing in the Nevada Senate Legislative Operations Committee. Why does this matter? Because these bills are critical to expanding voting rights in the state of Nevada. AB 440 extends the voter registration deadline so more Nevadan have the opportunity to register vote, while AB 441 makes voting on election day more convenient by adding additional voting locations to choose from.

ProtectR2VRepublican governors and legislators across the country are trying to restrict voting rights because they know the only way they can win elections is to stop as many people from voting as possible. We cannot let this happen!

We need you to contact legislators on the Senate Legislative Operations Committee right now and tell them to expand voting rights by passing AB 440 and AB 441.

You can find the Committee members’ contact information below:

The clock is running out on the legislative session – if you want to ensure that every Nevadan has a voice in choosing our elected leaders, PLEASE

  • Send an email to these committee members,
  • Express your support and
  • Ask/tell them to pass these bills now.

More on the GOP’s Anti-Jobs Agenda

This Congress, led by the Gang of Plunderers (GOP), is the most JOBS and worker-unfriendly Congress that we’ve seen since the 19th century. As the Desert Beacon pointed out in yesterday’s post, the GOP-led House, has yet to address any type of bill, let alone a comprehensive bill, addressing JOB creation.  As she so aptly points out, no jobs – no demand, leading to potentially even fewer jobs on the horizon, which will lead to even less demand.  The GOP, through their inaction, is contributing to a death spiral for jobs in this country.

Regardless, they’re oblivious to the declining demands.  They’re more interested in pillaging and waging cultural war on women, children and organized labor.  So instead of proposing bills addressing issues that would generate jobs, well, they’re going after their pet peeves instead.  Below are a few examples of recently introduced this jobs-related bills.  You’ll note the trend of these bills is not ‘creation’ … but ‘elimination’ instead.  Granted, these haven’t yet been voted upon, and have been referred to committee, but they should give you a hint of where the GOP just might plan to go next:

  • HR1779, the Federal Hiring Freeze Act, which would reduce the number of civil service positions within the executive branch.  Now this one is interesting.  This one affects only the President’s staff and restricts his ability to replace staff members while  the budget has a deficit, and thus his ability to get the job done for the American people.
  • HR2114 which would set attrition requirements such that the total number of federal employees, by the beginning of FY2015, must be no more than 90% of the number of employees on the Sept. 30, 2011 payroll and further that for every 3 employees leaving the payroll, ONLY 1 can be replaced.
  • HR2118 would amend the National Labor Relations Act to prevent the NLRB from bringing a law against a state that is in violation of the NLRB act.  Instead of invoking the wrath of workers by using the word ‘repeal’ … they’ll attempt to make it generally ineffective.
  • HR2137 which would give you an unemployment ‘voucher’ that you can transfer to an employer.  That employer can then draw up to 90% of your remaining unemployment compensation to an employer who hires you as a bribe to hire you. Of course, we all know how that story will end. As soon as the unemployment comp runs out, you’ll again be let go, only this time because the way the bill is worded, the employer having consumed your unemployment comp, there will be absolutely NOTHING for you to draw.
  • HR2145, the No Union Dues Deductions from Federal Employee Pay Act, which would prohibit all Federal agencies from deducting union dues from the paychecks of federal workers.
  • HR2153, the Truth in Employment Act of 2011, which would amend the National Labor Relations Act to protect employer rights by allowing them the right to refuse to hire workers who would be sympathetic to organizing efforts.

And not jobs-related, but near and dear to every working American’s heart:

  • HR2109, the ‘Savings Account for Every American Act’ which would replace and privatize Social Security. With all the huff about the Anthony Weiner scandal, that one flew completely under everybody’s radar.
  • HR2018, which would replace the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection with the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on the FDIC Board of Directors.  This one kind of begs the question, ‘just how badly can the GOP hate the effectiveness of Elizabeth Warren?’
There is one highlight, however, that has been proposed by the GOP that I’m looking forward to passage, as should most Americans.  Many public servants (e.g., police officers, etc.) whose employment is terminated for cause (not just convicted of a felony), loose their accrued retirement benefits as part of that termination process.  HR2162 would deny retirement benefits accrued by an individual as a Member of Congress if such individual is convicted of certain offenses.  If passed, and if former Senator Ensign is convicted, that would mean he would lose his retirement benefits.  As far as I’m concerned this one should go a bit further and include “expulsion from Congress” as a condition under which retirement benefits should be denied.
The above bills have been proposed and are currently in committee.  They haven’t yet come out of committee for a vote on the House floor and for all intents and purposes, could die in committee.  But, given the GOP’s propensity to support big business at the expense of workers, and the GOP’s zeal to repeal the social safety net for ordinary Americans, it’s likely a few of these bills, if not all those I’ve listed will make it to the floor.  If you have something to say about these bills, you can use PopVox to send your comments directly to your Representative.  You can also peruse PopVox to see what others are saying about various bills under consideration to help you frame up your response.

Take Action: Ask Reid/Heller to Co-Sponsor S587

Did you know oil and gas companies are allowed to inject unchecked quantities of a secret, toxic fluid, directly into or drinking water — and that the EPA is currently powerless to do anything about it?  High Pressure Hydraulic Fracturing (or Fracking) is a method of drilling for natural gas by pumping a mixture of water and toxic, cancer-causing chemicals deep underground, and it’s already responsible for poisoning the groundwater in states across the country.  Fracking wells are spreading at an alarming rate. But even more alarming, thanks to the work of Dick Cheney and his infamous energy policy, Frackers don’t have to disclose the chemicals used in their fluid, and the process is totally exempt from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The FRAC Act, a bill that has been in the Senate since 2009, would correct both these problems. As public concern over Fracking has grown, the bill has gained some momentum. If you’ve ever seen the picture of the man lighting his tap water on fire from the recent documentary Gasland, that was because of nearby Fracking.

Fracking a single gas well uses hundreds of thousands, or even millions of gallons of water, combined with hundreds of tons of chemicals including known toxics and carcinogens. While the exact contents of the fluid is still a secret, scientific examination reveals that it often contains diesel fuel, which includes benzene, as well as methanol, formaldehyde and hydrochloric acid and many others. The fluid is injected thousands of feet underground at extremely high pressure, literally cracking the earth to release trapped gas. Unfortunately, our water table is down there, too.

Yet somehow, the EPA has been handcuffed from regulating Fracking to keep our water clean since 2005, in what has become known as “the Halliburton loophole.” Halliburton, where Dick Cheney was CEO before becoming Vice President, patented Fracking in the 1940’s and remains the third largest producer of Fracking fluids. And in trademark Bush administration style, Halliburton staff were actively involved in a 2004 EPA report on Fracking safety. The “Halliburton loophole” remains a dangerous legacy of the Bush Administration and if we’re going to protect our water, we need to close it.

Fracking is currently underway in 36 states. The ramifications to our water from expanded, unchecked Fracking will be extreme and are only beginning to be fully realized by the public — thanks in no small part to the continued resistance of industry to disclose the poisons it involves.

An important investigative series by the New York Times recently concluded that “the dangers to the environment and health are greater than previously understood.”  In addition to toxic, carcinogenic fluids which remain underground after a well is Fracked, Fracking also produces substantial quantities of waste water which is literally radioactive. According to the Times, the water is “sometimes hauled to sewage plants not designed to treat it and then discharged into rivers that supply drinking water, contains radioactivity at levels higher than previously known, and far higher than the level that federal regulators say is safe for these treatment plants to handle.”  What’s more, above ground spills of toxic Fracking fluids are becoming increasingly common. A large spill this April in Pennsylvania dumped thousands of gallons into fields and streams, eerily, on the one year anniversary of the Deep Water Horizon oil spill.

The oil and gas industry is the only industry in America that is allowed by EPA to inject known hazardous materials — unchecked — directly into or adjacent to underground drinking water supplies. That needs to change, and to change it, we need to work to pass the FRAC Act.

The FRAC Act, S 587 in the Senate and HR 1084 in the House,  would do the following:

  • Require disclosure of the chemicals used in the process of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas extraction, but not the proprietary chemical formula.  Disclosures would be made available to the public online.
  • Protect proprietary chemical formulas– much like the way Coca-Cola must reveal the ingredients of Coke, but not their secret formula; oil and gas companies would have to reveal the chemicals, but not the specific formula.
  • Enact an emergency provision requiring proprietary chemical formulas to be disclosed to a treating physician, the State, or EPA in emergency situations where the information is needed to provide medical treatment.
  • Repeal a provision added to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 exempting the industry from complying with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), one of our landmark environmental and public health protection statutes.

Please express your position about this bill using POPVOX, and let POPVOX send your comments directly to your Congressmen.  Let them know we need to close the Halliburton loophole and protect our health and our drinking water.

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Time to End Oil Subsidies

As Americans continue to struggle with outrageous, unstable gas prices, big oil companies continue to benefit from them.

Exxon Mobil announced Thursday a first-quarter profit of $10.6 billion — a 69% increase from last year, and a number so astronomical, Exxon executives felt the need to issue defensive statements in advance. Also unveiling massive earnings were Shell ($6.3 billion, up 30%), ConocoPhillips ($3 billion, up 44%), Chevron ($6.2 billion, up 36%) and of course, BP ($7.1 Billion, up 16%). In all, these five oil companies have reaped nearly $1 trillion in profits in the last 10 years.

But more outrageous than jaw-dropping oil company profits, is the fact that our government actually rewards these companies with even more of our money for maintaining this disastrous system — to the tune of $4 billion a year in tax credits and subsidies. It’s time for that to end.

It is a testament to the influence of polluters, and the power of the money they shower upon congress, that so many of our leaders have continued to defend these senseless subsidies.

On Tuesday, President Obama sent a letter to congressional leaders asking them to end oil subsidies, and Nancy Pelosi also sent a letter to Speaker Boehner asking him to schedule a House vote next week. Harry Reid announced he will hold a vote in the Senate as soon as possible.

Please take the time to write to your Representative and Senators in Congress and let them know it’s time to stop subsidizing Big Oil and that it’s time instead to invest in technologies to wean our nation off of the volatileness of oil. You’ll find links to Nevada’s Congressional leaders in the right hand sidebar.

Related Posts:

  • Robert Reich | The Oil Company Gusher — Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog: “Exxon-Mobil’s first quarter earnings of $10.7 billion are up 69 percent from last year. That’s the most profit the company has earned since the third quarter of 2008 – perhaps not coincidentally, around the time when gas prices last reached the lofty $4 a gallon. This gusher is an embarrassment for an industry seeking to keep its $4 billion annual tax subsidy from the US government, at a time when we’re cutting social programs to reduce the budget deficit. It’s especially embarrassing when Americans are paying through their noses at the pump.”
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