DACA Under Siege by Trump and AG Jeff Sessions

Last week, Trump pardoned Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a notorious national symbol of racism who refused court orders to stop his racial profiling in his zealous multi-year campaign of persecution against Latino communities. Now, one week later, Trump is throwing MORE red meat to his anti-immigrant and white supremacist supporters by going after immigrant kids, once again undermining American values in order to feed the bigotry of his extreme base. 

This morning, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced to the world that we, as a nation, can no longer be trusted to keep its word, that our word is no longer our bond. You see, in a stunning act of cruelty even for Trump, he had Attorney General Jeff Sessions announce termination of key parts of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program effective six months from now, upending the lives of 800,000+ young people. That 

DACA recipients – often referred to as DREAMers — were brought to the US as children and for many of them this is the only country they’ve ever really known. Under the DACA program, they registered with the government and passed background checks in exchange for being able to work, pay taxes, and feel secure in their homes without the fear of deportation.

Many on the anti-immigrant Right who have been fighting against DACA since Day One have focused their criticism on the way in which it was done – with an executive order by President Obama. They have claimed that the real problem was just that Congress didn’t pass the law – so now it’s up to Congress to call their bluff and pass the DREAM Act.

Congress needs to act now to protect our investment in their education and assimilation before Trump releases his hordes of ICE thugs to begin deportation of DREAMers as their 2-yr authorizations come up for  renewals. And we even have a head start, because the bill already has bipartisan support!

Congress can undo this outrage by passing the DREAM Act of 2017, which would provide a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other young undocumented immigrants who graduate from US high schools and attend college, enter the workforce, or enlist in a military program.

In the Senate, the DREAM Act is sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) … we need to demand that the Senate make this bipartisan bill a priority, to get relief to the DREAMers who need it.

Petition:  << Tell Congress to PASS the DREAM Act of 2017 without delay! >>

Or, better yet, take a moment from your day and call or write your members of Congress and ask them to expedite bringing the Dream Act of 2017 [ House bill#:  H.R.3440 / Senate bill#: S.1615 ] to the floor for a vote AND to vote for its passage:

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Mid-Term Senate Races Matter: Heller’s High Water

U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) released the below statement after a right-leaning federal judge in Texas nullified the Obama Administration’s Department of Labor overtime rule.

“The former Obama Administration’s expansion of the federal overtime rule would have devastated Nevada’s business owners and job creators. Since the rule was issued last year, I have been strongly concerned about its impact because it would fundamentally change how employers compensate their workers, reducing Nevadans’ work hours and benefits. I’m pleased to see that a federal judge acknowledged the regulation’s harmful consequences and ruled it invalid today,” Heller said. “Today’s news is a relief for countless Nevada businesses and employers, and I commend Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt for his leadership in this fight.”

Heller has worked tirelessly at undermining the Obama-era overtime rule aimed at leveling the playing field for workers. Instead, he’s worked to bolster the bottom line of his corporate benefactors. Don’t believe me?  As evidence —

  • In February 2016 he wrote to Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez about this rule and what he claimed would be its negative impacts on corporations in the state of Nevada.
  • In March 2016, he followed up with yet another letter highlighting his concerns over the new policy change.
  • In the Senate, Heller expressed concerns with his Senate colleagues by writing to Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related Agencies Chairman Roy Blunt and Ranking Member Patty Murray.

Heller also cosponsored S. 2707, the Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act, in the 114th Congress, legislation that would have cancelled the proposed DOL regulation to increase the salary threshold for workers eligible to receive overtime pay and require impact studies for future proposals of related rules.

Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act

S.2707 declared that the proposed or the final rule of the Department of Labor entitled “Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees” shall cease to have any force or effect. The rule revises the “white collar” exemption of executive, administrative, professional, outside sales, and computer employees from minimum wage and maximum hour, or overtime, requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA).

If the proposed rule is a final rule on the date of enactment of S.2707:

  • the Dept of Labor would have been prohibited from enforcing it based on conduct occurring before that enactment date,
  • an employee would not have any right of action against an employer for the employer’s failure to comply with the final rule at any time before that enactment date,
  • any regulations that were amended by the final rule would have been restored and revived as if the final rule had never taken effect, and
  • nothing in S.2707 would have been construed to create a right of action for an employer against an employee for the recoupment of any payments made to the employee before the enactment of this bill that were in compliance with that final rule.

It also specified that the Dept of Labor could promulgate any substantially similar rule only if it had completed certain required actions; but any new rule could not contain any automatic updates to the salary threshold for purposes of exemptions to minimum wage and maximum hour requirements under the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act).

The requirement that definitions applicable for such exemptions be defined and delimited from time to time by Labor regulations would have been construed to:

  • require Labor to issue a new rule through notice and comment rule-making for each change in any salary threshold it has proposed (creating more expensive and elongated rule-making processes); and
  • exclude any rule that would result in changes to any salary threshold for multiple time periods, including through any automatic updating procedure.

The Dept of Labor was also prohibited from promulgating any final rule that included any revision to duties tests for exemption from minimum wage and maximum hours requirements unless specific regulatory text for the provision was proposed in the proposed rule.

For clarity, here is the background on that “Final Rule” and what it did for WORKERS:

In 2014, President Obama directed the Department of Labor to update and modernize the regulations governing the exemption of executive, administrative, and professional (“EAP”) employees from the minimum wage and overtime pay protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA” or “Act”). The Department published a notice of proposed rulemaking on July 6, 2015, and received more than 270,000 comments. On May 18, 2016, the Department announced that it will publish a Final Rule to update the regulations. The full text of the Final Rule will be available at the Federal Register Site.

Although the FLSA ensures minimum wage and overtime pay protections for most employees covered by the Act, some workers, including bona fide EAP employees, are exempt from those protections. Since 1940, the Department’s regulations have generally required each of three tests to be met for the FLSA’s EAP exemption to apply:

  1. the employee must be paid a predetermined and fixed salary that is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of work performed (“salary basis test”);
  2. the amount of salary paid must meet a minimum specified amount (“salary level test”); and
  3. the employee’s job duties must primarily involve executive, administrative, or professional duties as defined by the regulations (“duties test”).

The Department last updated these regulations in 2004, when it set the weekly salary level at $455 ($23,660 annually) and made other changes to the regulations, including collapsing the short and long duties tests into a single standard duties test and introducing a new exemption for highly compensated employees.

This Final Rule updates the salary level required for exemption to ensure that the FLSA’s intended overtime protections are fully implemented, and to simplify the identification of overtime-protected employees, thus making the EAP exemption easier for employers and workers to understand and apply. Without intervening action by their employers, it extends the right to overtime pay to an estimated 4.2 million workers who are currently exempt. It also strengthens existing overtime protections for 5.7 million additional white collar salaried workers and 3.2 million salaried blue collar workers whose entitlement to overtime pay will no longer rely on the application of the duties test.

* Key Provisions of the Final Rule *
The Final Rule focused primarily on updating the salary and compensation levels needed for EAP workers to be exempt. Specifically, the Final Rule:

  1. Set the standard salary level at the 40th percentile of earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census Region, currently the South, which is $913 per week or $47,476 annually for a full-year worker;
  2. Set the total annual compensation requirement for highly compensated employees (HCE) subject to a minimal duties test to the annual equivalent of the 90th percentile of full-time salaried workers nationally, which is $134,004; and
  3. Established a mechanism for automatically updating the salary and compensation levels every three years to maintain the levels at the above percentiles and to ensure that they continue to provide useful and effective tests for exemption.

Additionally, the Final Rule amended the salary basis test to allow employers to use non-discretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10 percent of the new standard salary level. The Final Rule made no changes to the duties tests.

Effective Date
The effective date of the Final Rule is December 1, 2016. The initial increases to the standard salary level (from $455 to $913 per week) and HCE total annual compensation requirement (from $100,000 to $134,004 per year) will be effective on that date. Future automatic updates to those thresholds will occur every three years, beginning on January 1, 2020.

Frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Senator Heller espouse and promote a nationwide move such as that just made by the Missouri GOP-led legislature which lowered the minimum wage from $10/hr to $7.70/hr (or, from $20, 800/yr to $16,016/yr for Missouri citizens.

Afterall, Senator Heller has made it exceedingly clear that he represents only his corporate benefactors and is a firm believer and double-downer in a failed trickle-down philosophy.

“Congress is ready to address tax reform, and that’s why I’m encouraged by the President’s comments today about bringing tax relief to all Americans. Nevada’s hardworking families and small business owners have been waiting for a simpler, fairer tax code for years now, and Congress and the White House are poised to make that happen,” Heller said. “I was honored to host Secretary Mnuchin earlier this week in Las Vegas for a meeting with Nevada employers and the message we received from these business leaders was clear – lowering rates will help boost the economy, create jobs and increase wages. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, I’m looking forward to working with the Administration on this issue and having a seat at the table to make sure that the final product is what’s best for Nevada.”

Mid-term elections matter and we cannot let Dean Heller get re-elected to the Senate, nor can we let AG Laxalt get elected to the Governorship of Nevada.

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Be Sure to Thank Sen. Dean Heller for NO Health Insurance Choices

— by Anjeanette Damon

News has broken that Anthem will stop offering health plans under the Affordable Care Act in nearly all of Nevada’s rural counties, specifically blaming the uncertainty caused by the Republican health care plan in the U.S. Senate. Roughly 8,000 rural Nevadans will lose their access to insurance, with no alternatives to buy a different plan on the exchange. Prominence also decided to pull out of the state’s exchange entirely.

From Stewart Boss, Nevada State Democratic Party spokesperson: “Nevada families are already feeling the harmful effects of the Republican health care agenda in Washington, and Senator Heller – who has voted 20 times to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act – is a major part of the problem. The uncertainty and instability caused by Dean Heller and Senate Republicans continuing their efforts to pass their toxic health care plan, combined with the GOP’s efforts to disrupt the exchanges, is now creating havoc in Nevada’s rural counties. The thousands of Nevadans who will lose their health care plans or lose access to health insurance through the exchange have Dean Heller and Donald Trump to blame for this turmoil.”

Reno Gazette-Journal: BREAKING: Rural Nevada to lose all Obamacare plans next year

Longer-Term Effects of the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 on Medicaid Spending

Longer-Term Effects of the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 on Medicaid Spending

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In CBO’s assessment, Medicaid spending under the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 would be 26 percent lower in 2026 than it would be under the agency’s extended baseline, and the gap would widen to about 35 percent in 2036 (see figure below). Under CBO’s extended baseline, overall Medicaid spending would grow 5.1 percent per year during the next two decades, in part because prices for medical services would increase. Under this legislation, such spending would increase at a rate of 1.9 percent per year through 2026 and about 3.5 percent per year in the decade after that.

CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation do not have an insurance coverage baseline beyond the coming decade and therefore are not able to quantify the legislation’s effect on insurance coverage over the longer term. However, the agencies expect that after 2026, enrollment in Medicaid would continue to fall relative to what would happen under the extended baseline.

On the basis of consultation with the budget committees, CBO’s just-released cost estimate for the bill measured the costs and savings relative to CBO’s March 2016 baseline projections, with adjustments for legislation that was enacted after that baseline was produced. For consistency, this longer-term analysis uses CBO’s extended baseline published in July 2016. CBO analyzed these longer-term effects at the request of the Ranking Members of the Senate Budget Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.

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Trump Can’t Put His Ego Aside, Declares Voter Fraud, Forms Unwarranted Commission at Taxpayer Expense

Trump may have won the electoral college, but he lost the popular vote by a historic margin.  That fact apparently insults his fragile ego to the effect that he’s now amplified his claims of voter fraud and formed a commission that will look for the equivalent of lightning repeatedly striking the same exact spot.  Heading that commission will be Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach who championed an illegal voter suppression technique called “caging” and launched a program called Interstate Crosscheck to compare voter registration data across states and ferret out evidence of double voting.  Crosscheck, in the 30 states that took up using it, flagged 7.2 million possible double registrants, no more than four have actually been charged with deliberate double registration or double voting.  Very few actual cases of fraud being referred for prosecution.

A new investigation from Rolling Stone raises fresh concerns about Interstate Crosscheck, finding that its methodology has a built-in racial bias that puts people with African-American, Latino and Asian names at greater risk of being wrongly accused of double voting.

The Washington Post actually did a deep dive into the 2016 election looking for voter fraud:

We combed through the news-aggregation system Nexis to find demonstrated cases of absentee or in-person voter fraud – which is to say, examples of people getting caught casting a ballot that they shouldn’t – during this election. This excludes examples of voter registration fraud – the filing of fraudulent voter registration information. Those aren’t votes cast – and given that organizations often provide incentives for employees to register as many people as possible, registration fraud cases (while still rare) are more common.

The found a grand total of only four documented instances of voters attempted to cast fraudulent votes. Not four percent, literally four individuals — and most of them were Republican voters.  There are no other documented cases of voter fraud in the entire country in 2016. These four represent 0.000002% of the ballots cast, and again, they weren’t actually included in any official tallies.

But for Trump, that’s just all “fake news” and he’s now formed his very own commission using taxpayer dollars to find that elusive voter fraud …. or is it to look for ways to suppress the vote nationwide to assure his re-election in 2020.  And, Kris Kobach has now lobbed his first volley in that effort:


I thought Republicans were supposed to be “States’ Rights” advocates.  This effort by President Trump through his minions Kris Kobach and AG Jeff Sessions looks like an attempt to federally take over our voting processes so as to make it easier to suppress the vote across the entire nation.  Do you really want to give all your personal and voting information to the Republicans who just left a database of voter information wide-open and unprotected for any and all to see, including the Russians?  If you read the letter above, he wants:

  • Your First and Last Name, including Middle Name and/or initials
  • Registration/Mailing Addresses
  • Your Date of Birth
  • Your Political Party
  • Your Last 4 digits of your Social Security Number
  • Your Voter history (elections voted in since 2006)
  • Your Voter Status (Active/Inactive/Cancelled)
  • Info whether you registered in some other state
  • Info regarding your military status
  • Info regarding whether you’re an overseas citizen

But it gets worse as he states:  “Please be aware that any documents that are submitted to the full Commission will also be made available to the public.”  Wonderful!  Are they planning to make it easy for hackers/criminals to use your personally identifiable information to commit identity theft as a means of voter intimidation and suppression?

Apparently Nevada’s Secretary of State has no problem with complying with the request, but will at least withhold Social Security Numbers, Driver’s License Numbers, DMV-ID Card Numbers and email addresses:

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